"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas."
Shirley Chisholm didn't just talk about progress- she embodied it. Born in Brooklyn in 1924, both of her parents were working immigrants. She was a nursery director from 1953-1959, and it was her work there that sparked her interest in politics. She was a member of the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1968, where she succeeded in getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers, and sponsored a program which provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college. She became the first black woman elected to Congress. And she didn't stop there.
She used her position in Congress to help people.
She met with Robert Dole to expand the food stamp program, played a critical role in the creation of the WIC program (a nutrition program for pregnant woman and infants, which currently serves 53% of all infants born in the United States- via). She was placed on the Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Education and Labor Committee. And on January 25, 1972 she announced her bid for Presidency.
She paved the way for future candidates.
Shirley Chisholm was the first black major-party candidate to run for President, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. And even though she didn't win the election, her dedication to this country never wavered. She continued her work in Congress, supporting a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, was a vocal opponent of the draft, and supported increases in spending for education, healthcare, and social services. After retiring from Congress in 1982, she returned to her career in education, working at Mount Holyoke College until her retirement in 1991.
You can hear her story in her own words.
Her work as a politician and educator was incredible. Let's hear it for her!