Introducing the revival of maudern mavericks, our IG series that highlights the people who have pioneered sex education, reproductive rights, and equitable health access. First up, meet the fearless Shirley Chisholm, the first African American elected to the United States Congress.
November 1924, Brooklyn, NY.
First woman to run for the presidential nomination under the Democratic Party. Fought for the Equal Rights Amendment.
Chisholm earned her BA in 1946 at Brooklyn College and was a member of the Harriet Tubman Society where she fought for diversity and inclusion. In 1952, she graduated with an M.A. in Elementary Education at the Teaching College at Columbia University.
While running a daycare in the mid-1950s, Chisholm became interested in politics and found herself volunteering at the Brooklyn Democratic Clubs, Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League, the League of Women Voters and the National Association of College Women.
Recognizing her ability to affect change, Chisholm ran for office in the New York State Legislature and won in 1964. Four years later, "Fighting Shirley" ran for Congress and became the first African American ever elected. In office, she introduced 50 pieces of legislation championing gender, racial, and economic equality including giving her lauded speech "For the Equal Rights Amendment" in 1970 and co-founding the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.
In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.
In 1972, Chisholm ran for president as the first woman under the Democratic bid. Underfunded and blocked from participating in televised debates, Shirley continued to gain support including from the Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan and National Organization of Women, and despite the challenges, received 10% of the delegates’ votes.
Reproductive Rights Legacy
After serving seven terms, Chisholm returned to her career in education teaching at Mount Holyoke College and as an acting scholar at Spelman College. In 1990, along with 15 others, Shirley helped create the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom, an advocacy group that fought to destigmatize reproductive rights and access within marginalized communities. In 1993, Chisholm was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Chisholm lived out her life and passed away in 2005.
More on Shirley
Shirley Chisholm Project on Brooklyn Women's Activism, Brooklyn College
Shirley Chisholm State Park
Documentary, Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed
Bio, Unbought & Unbossed
2019 Belongs to Shirley Chisholm, New York Times