Shirley Chisholm

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Biography

Shirley Chisholm, first African American Woman in Congress, 1972 Candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination.

Shirley St. Hill Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York. Chisholm attended Girls High School in Brooklyn, graduating in 1942. Majoring in Sociology, Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946.

In 1949, she married Conrad Chisholm, a Jamaican who worked as a private investigator. The Chisholms were active in local politics and helped to form the Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League. In 1960, Chisholm started the Unity Democratic Club, which focused on organizing black and Hispanic voters.

In 1964 Chisholm was elected to the New York State Assembly, in which she served from 1964 to 1968.

In 1968, Chisholm ran for U.S. Representative in New York's Twelfth Congressional District. Chisholm won and became the first African American woman elected to Congress, where she hired an all-female staff. In 1970, she was elected to a second term. Chisholm was a co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW).

In 1972, Chisholm became a candidate for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. In announcing her candidancy, Chisholm said, "I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or special interests. I am the candidate of the people." Her campaign slogan was "Fighting Shirley Chisholm - Unbought and Unbossed." It echoed the title of Chisholm's 1970 book, Unbought and Unbossed.

The 1972 Democratic National Convention was the first major convention in which any woman was considered for the presidential nomination. Chisholm received 151 of the delegates' votes. After her presidential run, Chisholm continued to serve in the House of Representatives until 1982.

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