November 30th, 2020 marked the 96th birthday of politician, teacher, author and activist Shirley Chisholm. Although she is not mentioned as much as she should be when discussing American politics, Chisholm was an extremely important figure in the American political system.
Shirley Chisholm (born Shirley Anita St. Hill.) began her decorated career as a teacher’s aide in Harlem, N.Y. in 1946. Seven years later in 1953, Chisholm officially entered the world of American politics advocating for Lewis Flagg Jr. who became the first Black judge elected in Brooklyn.
Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress where she served seven terms (1969-1983). In 1972, Chisholm became the first African-American candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America. As well as the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party as a presidential nominee.
However, in 2005 (only 15 years ago) when Shirley Chisholm passed, there were no national memorial services or even a nationally-televised special to honor her. Why? Chisholm single-handedly paved the way for all of today’s top political figures including fellow Brooklynite Ruth Bader Ginsburg who recently passed in September 2020.
In 2015, ten years after her death, Chisholm was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2019, Shirley Chisholm State Park opened to the public in East New York, Brooklyn . The state park created to honor Chisholm in her hometown is the largest state park in New York City stretching 407 acres. Now all we need is a giant-sized statue erected in Washington D.C. to honor Chisholm who was a giant-sized figure herself.
Let’s start celebrating our heroes while they are still here living and breathing! Shirley Chisholm was a true Brooklyn girl with a vision! -xoxo #BrooklynGirlCode <3
“Our confrontation must be against an all-time vision of America. Our confrontation must be against Blacks in the cotton and tobacco fields. Our confrontation must be against women in the kitchen. Our confrontation must be against Blacks at the back door and women at the bedroom door. Those bad, old days are dead.” – Shirley Chisholm