Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, was a passionate and effective advocate for the needs of minorities, women and children and changed the nation’s perception about the capabilities of women and African Americans.
A New York City educator and child care manager, Chisholm saw the problems of the poor every day, and in the 1950s this led her to run for and win a seat in the New York State Legislature. In 1968 she was elected to Congress from the new 12th District. There she supported improved employment and education programs, expansion of day care, income support and other programs to improve inner city life and opportunity. She advocated for the end of the military draft and reduced defense spending. In 1970, she published her first book, Unbossed and Unbought. She served in Congress until 1982 and in 1972 entered several Democratic presidential primaries, receiving 151 delegate votes for the presidential nomination. Her second book, The Good Fight, was published in 1973.
She continued to be recognized for her legislative prowess in those years when powerful committee assignments were not available to women and persons of color. Her legacy is alive at the Shirley Chisholm Center for Research on Women at Brooklyn College.