Shirley Chisholm, Democratic Congresswoman seeking the nomination for president, makes a point during a speech in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 16, 1972.
Shirley Chisholm, Democratic Congresswoman seeking the nomination for president, makes a point during a speech in San Francisco on Tuesday, May 16, 1972. Richard Drew/AP
February is Black History Month and Tell Me More observes the month with a series of short vignettes. In this installment, regular contributor Jolene Ivey shares her black history hero.
I'm Jolene Ivey, a frequent contributor to the Tell Me More parenting segment and a Maryland state delegate from the 47th district. As an African-American woman politician I'm proud to pay tribute to the late U.S. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. She was exactly the kind of politician I aspire to be: outspoken, fearless and true.
Shirley Chisholm won a seat in the New York State Assembly in 1964, and four years later ran successfully for Congress with the campaign theme, "Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed." She was the first black woman elected to Congress.
During a time when it was not popular to do so, she opposed the Vietnam War. Congresswoman Chisholm insisted that money should not be spent for war when our real enemies were racism, poverty and a lack of education.
Our country is indebted to her for her fierce commitment to women's rights. She introduced the bill that brought publicly funded daycare centers to our country. She made sure that domestic workers got unemployment insurance. And she spoke out for a woman's right to pursue any career path, making her a firebrand in her day.
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'm not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman and I'm equally proud of that. I'm not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests. I am the candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.
Congresswoman Chisolm ran for president of the United States in 1972, and was the first woman, and first African American, to do so. She didn't win the Democratic nomination, but she made a crack in the glass ceiling that President Barack Obama broke through in 2008.