Shirley Chisholm 1924-2005
Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, NY, one of eight children. The Great Depression made things difficult for her immigrant parents but they stressed the value of education with their children. Shirley graduated with excellent marks from Girls’ High School but was unable to attend any of the prestigious colleges that awarded her tuition scholarships because her family could not afford the cost of room and board. Instead, Shirley lived at home and attended Brooklyn College where she was active in campus and community groups. She trained as a teacher but harbored a strong interest in politics. Her first political campaign was successful and she was elected to the N.Y.S. Assembly in 1964. In 1968, she ran for U.S. Congress and was elected for the first of seven terms.
Throughout her career in Congress, Shirley Chisholm focused on the needs of her constituents and was among the earliest opponents of the Vietnam War. She was a strong supporter of women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose. In 1972 she attempted to win the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States. She was unsuccessful, but continued to serve in Congress and spoke out about police brutality, prison reform and gun control. After leaving Congress in 1982 she taught politics and women’s studies at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts.
“Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.”
Shirley Chisholm remains an inspiration to women and to young girls looking to make a difference in society through the political process.