February is Black History Month From the Eddie Mae Herron Center...

This week we have another important Black History figure to share with you. We want to present a few interesting facts about Shirley Chisholm. Her name may be familiar to some, but if you are younger than fifty years old, you might not have ever heard of Ms. Chisholm. She was a true trailblazer, with a number of “firsts” attached to her name. She was a politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to the United States Congress; four years later she would become the first African-American candidate for President of the United States.

Born in Brooklyn, Shirley was the daughter of immigrants; her father was from British Guiana and her mother from Barbados. She studied elementary education at Columbia University. She became active with community and political groups, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and her district’s Unity Democratic Club.

In 1968, she became the first Black woman ever elected to the United States House of Representatives, defeating the famed civil rights leader James Farmer. She represented New York’s 12th congressional district for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In Congress she became known as a strong liberal who opposed weapons development and the war in Vietnam and favored full-employment proposals. She led expansion of programs for the poor, she fought for programs like Head Start, school lunches and food stamps. She was one of only 19 Representatives willing to hold hearings on the Vietnam War. And she was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Women’s Caucus.



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