Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author. She was a Congresswoman, representing New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the 1st African-American woman elected to Congress. On January 25, 1972, she became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination (US Senator Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination). She received 152 first-ballot votes at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.

Chisholm was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1968, sitting in the 175th, 176th and 177th New York State Legislatures. Her successes in the legislature included getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers. She also sponsored the introduction of a SEEK program (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) to the state, which provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college while receiving intensive remedial education.

Chisholm said that she had faced much more discrimination during her New York legislative career because she was a woman than because of her race. Chisholm joined the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 as one of its founding members. In the same year, she was also a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Chisholm was the keynote speaker at Hunter College‘s graduation in 1971. In 1974, Chisholm was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Aquinas College and was their commencement speaker. In 1975, Chisholm was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by Smith College.

In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1996, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree by Stetson University, in Deland, FL. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Shirley Chisholm on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.

On January 31, 2014, the Shirley Chisholm Forever Stamp was issued. It is the 37th stamp in the Black Heritage series of U.S. stamps.

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