Shirley Chisholm: First African American Congresswoman | Black History Documentary | Timeline

[Music] but if you would tell me who I am at least take the trouble to discover what I have been [Music] I have a dream [Music] the one day this nation will rise up live up meaning [Music] [Music] you people should look at shirley chisholm as one who sought and received a very good education but she used education not just for herself she forgot about her own circumstances her own problems and got involved in the problem and circumstances of others for the first time in the history of this nation a person of color and the woman advantage running for the highest office of this land and it’s a wonderful thing to know that in spite of the many obstacles in my path that there’s such a large large cross-section of America who is behind me and saying why not why not dare to dream like so many other some drugs before me in 1969 former congresswoman shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress as a Democrat to represent the mostly black and Hispanic residents in Brooklyn New York during her political career in Congress miss Chisholm gained a strong national reputation for fighting for working people this often meant criticism but she didn’t back down I did not come to Congress to behave myself and stay away from explosive issues so I can keep coming back he stood out like I said because she was very strong strong wielded she was very articulate in her of what she would say she was respected tremendously by both white and black really because of her courageousness so I just think she opened to open the door forth for actually females into the political arena not just for black females but I mean female white and black because of her strong stance on issues and her willingness to take a chance Chisholm shot back at critics who wanted her to support different bills she felt would hurt her district during one battle she publicly defended her position saying I’m unbought and unbossed this statement became a popular slogan others copied and described how she would conduct her political career and business she meant she was not going to be controlled unbought and unbossed is the title of a book she published in her typical style Chisholm said of my two handicaps being female that many more obstacles in my path than being black racism is so universal in this country so widespread and deep-seated that it is invisible because it is so normal some contend that her courage to express her views about what she said was a systemic discrimination against Blacks caused her political trouble she ran for elected office and she got elected she emerged as a strong woman she places for women was not supposed to go several committees for women wasn’t supposed to serve and she had to courage nothing but raw courage to say yes I’m a woman but I’m also a leader to her credit miss Chisholm didn’t let the constant media attention distract her from the work her constituents elected her to do Chisholm was born on November 30th 1924 in Brooklyn New York her parents were strict but loving when Chisholm was a small child her parents sent her and her three sisters to live with their grandmother on the West Indian island of Barbados they felt this was a more nurturing environment surrounded by loving relatives Chisholm responded to this affection at just four years old she was an avid reader this is where she started her education on the island in a one-room school Chism’s grandmother and her teachers encouraged her to study in 1931 she left the peaceful environment in Barbados when her parents brought her back home to Brooklyn Chism’s father was interested in political issues and their many discussions was her first introduction to politics she continued to excel in school and in 1942 graduated from girls high although she won a scholarship to Vassar she chose Brooklyn College and stayed home in a political science class Chism’s professor told her she had the talent for politics and encouraged her to go into this profession after graduating with honors in sociology Chisholm worked as a teacher’s aide in Harlem after seven years she rose to be one of the top decision-makers at the Mount Calvary childcare center Chism’s interest in politics grew in 1946 she got her first taste of the real world of politics when she worked on the successful campaign of a black judge in New York to find out the needs of working people she was active in neighborhood groups and national organizations like the n-double-a-cp in 1949 she married Konrad Chisholm after almost 10 years of helping other politicians run for office which enabled her to learn the business of politics Chisholm announced her candidacy for state assembly in 1964 she was elected Assemblywoman in the state of New York Chisholm was a vocal advocate for working-class people introducing bills for their benefit four years later she made another daring move and entered the race for United States Congress no black woman had ever won before in 1968 her unprecedented attempt for this powerful position raised the eyebrows of many and drew national attention her win was heavily covered in the national press as a freshman member of Congress Chisholm showed that she would stand she went before the caucus of Democratic House members to object to her assignment on the farm committee they agreed to transfer her to another committee she also pushed for a public health care plan the issue of public school reform was also something Chisholm felt needed addressing as a congresswoman she was a highly sought-after speaker in 1972 Chisholm earned more than $30,000 in lecture fees more than any other member of Congress she accepted speaking engagements at Spelman College Howard University and many other colleges and one of her addresses to the historically black all-female college she told them to have stamina Chisholm said the road is tough if you are black and a woman in Congress Chisholm questioned aspects of the American Way of life and the press was there because of her name recognition Chisholm also attacked black politicians that sold out their constituents she often talked to youths to help them prepare for a competitive society in 1972 Chisholm was again the focus of national attention after announcing her candidacy for President of the United States this announcement made her the first black woman to run for the presidency I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States of America she was a very very courageous person you know being the first female to really aspire to be the president of the United States in her time was absolutely courageous she was just a dynamic dynamic person the media watched her very closely and I want to be President of the United States and she got out in campaign for president so young people should not be afraid to dream and not be afraid to dare some felt she shouldn’t run but Chism stood her ground and focused on running a successful campaign one big reason because she was a woman said Chism of my two handicaps being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black as her campaign moved throughout the country she stressed in many speeches that nothing is more important in solving the domestic problems of poverty ignorance racism and hunger she made headlines nationwide oh I feel wonderful it’s one of the most marvelous during the election Chisholm was quoted in the Atlanta journal-constitution newspaper that if elected she would reopen investigations into the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy dr. Martin Luther King jr. and other slain political leaders she made national headlines in the Mohamed speaks newspaper for saying she believes the Palestinians had a right to live in quality living conditions and not in the ghettos she stood for mutual cooperation between Palestinians and Jews and Israel according to the article for the first time in the history of this nation a person of color and a woman had died he’s running for the highest office of this land as a member of the House of Representatives she submitted bills to help working people for example Chisholm supported national health care and she introduced legislation in Congress after her failed attempt to win the presidency Chisholm was the subject of an intense federal probe into alleged illegal campaign practices on the checklist of charges were misused funds and not keeping financial records a newspaper reported Chisholm blasted the investigation charging that she was the target of a White House Vendetta because she was politically independent and opposed most of President Nixon’s administration policies all charges were later dropped after losing Chism returned to Congress she kept up her commitment to people issues and addressed hunger health care and wore the style in which she brought out these concerns drew more national media attention throughout the year Chism continued to be a highly sought after public speaker in the Congress she stayed committed to ensuring that people’s issues were not forgotten in February of 1975 major newspapers covered her fight in Congress against Congress’s vote not to increase food stamps Chism said millions of Americans needed food stamps because of a slumping economy and rising unemployment she went a step further and said more stamps may be necessary if things don’t get better shirley chisholm by standing up against some of the good ol boys even within a democratic party stand up against some of the african-american political leaders said that i’m unbought and i will not be bought she said in no uncertain terms that I’m my own person but I’m independent I’m gonna fight and I want to tell the truth during her career she stood for unity of black elected officials in Congress and was active in the Congressional Black Caucus her political career was filled with memorable moments in 1977 she was the first black elected official to meet with President Carter she was voted one of the most admired women in the good housekeeping annual poll of the world’s ten most admired women I think she Inspiral entire generation of women white women but especially like women all women to stand up she injected the political system moved to belief that women could be strong viable national leaders know it took charlotte Chisholm to set a tone to encourage other women to run for Congress to encourage a Walter Mondale even to put a woman on his ticket the vice-president Chism talked about the hardships of being a woman and black in America often saying being a woman was the most difficult I think she stood for what was right she was very adamant about her positions as a relate to what she felt was right and she as I recall she would exemplify that all the time I mean it was never a moment when she didn’t stress and push for things that were right when she was really a pioneer you might say as a female in in pushing forth that concept that idea of everybody could do the job whether you’re male or female and so you know that’s where I remember most about her I think she had tremendous amount of respect by her colleagues in the in Congress in a news article in 1981 Chisholm called for an end to apartheid in South Africa after a trip there to see the horrible living conditions for blacks as the first black woman elected to Congress and the first black woman to run for president she made political history but she made her permanent imprint even stronger by her courage to address events that affected workers blacks women and children in 1977 she remarried a former New York State Assemblyman during this period she gave indications that her time in Washington would soon end in 1982 Chisholm retired from Congress as a member of the House of Representatives I really felt that she was setting a very very high standard she I’ve never heard one negative point about anything that she had been involved with and all I mean that to me was a very very positive thing too you know to portray honesty in government if you believe in something then go with it you know go do everything you possibly could to convince others of the right way so I think she had she displayed high ethics good morals and just good stamina as a as a human being and as a female I gotta say I just think she was really really truly courageous after retirement Chisholm continued public speaking and taught at Spelman College in Albany I first saw something I have since seen in Washington man whose conscience urged them to one course of action were forced to take another by the political dynamics of a situation there is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent creative personality for a fighter anyone who takes that role must pay a price the irony come in America and all of us in this room can no longer be the passive recipients whatever the politics of a nation may be free for us as citizens within this realm but as we have the courage of our convictions if we desire to make a contribution to make this nation right about the fulfillment of the American dream so that it is meaningful to every state once in America
Video source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz-dfJIprkY

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