“ FIGHTING SHIRLEY “

Born November 30, 1924, the oldest of four daughters to immigrant parents Ruby Seale St.Hill. Working as a seamstress from Barbados and Charles St. Hill a factory worker from Guyana. Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was known as a great debater in high school and in college, where she won many prizes for the debate team. She was even told by her professor in college to think of considering a political career in her early life , but after time she thought of it as double handicap because she was black and a female.

Initially working as a nursery school teacher, Chisholm would later earn her master degree from Columbia in 1951. Later she was a consultant to the New York City Division of Day Care. At a time when racial and gender inequality was going on, she join local chapter of The League of Women Voters, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored people ( NAACP) , The Urban League, and the Democratic Party Club located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Chisholm also became the second African American in the New York State Legislators. Chisholm also fought and won a seat in Congress in 1968. Once in Congress ” fighting Shirley put through more than 50 pieces of legislation and continue to fight for racial and gender equality, the plight of the poor and ending the Vietnam war.

In 1972 discrimination killed Chisholm quest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. She was block from participating in any television primary debates. Even after taking legal action, she was only allowed to do one speech. Still , student, minorities, and women followed ” fighting Shirley” entering 12 primaries and garnered 152 of the delegates votes ( 10% of the total) – all while having a under financed campaign and contentiousness from the predominantly male Congressional Black Caucus.

In Chisholm later years , she retired from Congress in 1983. She then co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women. She taught at Mount Holyoke College. In 1991 Chisholm declined the nomination to become the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica due to ill health. When ask about her legacy , Chisholm responded ” I want to be remembered as a woman who dared to be a Catalyst of change”.

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