Freedom Fighter Spotlight: Shirley Chisholm

In today’s government, there are many black women that serve in both local and national leadership positions. There are women like Kamala Harris, Condoleezza Rice, Stacey Abrams and Michelle Obama wouldn’t have been able to create impact without Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress.


Chisholm became involved in politics when even white women were a rarity on Capitol Hill. She represented New York’s 12th congressional district. She served 7 terms and even ran for the Democratic party’s presidential nominee. Shirley was a trailblazer in every sense of the word.


Shirley Chisholm was born in 1924 in New York City. Her parents were Caribbean immigrants and she had 3 younger sisters. When Shirley was 5 years old, she went to Barbados to live with her grandmother. While there, she was enrolled in an excellent school which she later credited guiding her to the path she took as an adult.


In the late 1940’s, Shirley met Conrad Chisholm and they married in 1949. Shirley began working in a day care and her work there led her to named as an educational consultant for the Division of Day Care. Her time with the daycare led her to become involved in politics. She volunteered for many Democratic political clubs and organizations, including the Negro Association of College Women.


In 1965, Shirley Chisholm began her political career as a New York state legislator. She would go on to spend the next 16 years serving in various political positions. Her focuses were minority education and employment opportunities. She served on the Education and Labor Committee where she advocated for equality for women and minorities.


Shirley Chisholm worked hard throughout her career. She knew she was up against her gender and race, but it didn’t stop her from getting things done.