“I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”
“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’”
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to Congress, in 1968. She served as a New York congresswoman for seven terms. When she announced her bid for the presidency of the US in 1972, she simultaneously became the first African American candidate for a major party nomination and the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination. Chisholm was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus. She worked to expand the food stamp program and was instrumental in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. In 2015, Chisholm was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom (posthumously) by President Obama.
For a powerful analysis of Chisholm’s campaign and its impact, read Evelyn Simien’s book Historic Firsts: How Symbolic Empowerment Changes U.S. Politics.