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Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)

U.S. Congresswoman

When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. - 1982

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress. Prior to this, she served as the New York State assemblywoman from Brooklyn. Her major focus was improving conditions in her community. In Congress Chisolm represented two of the poorest urban communities in the country—Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where the population was predominately black and Puerto Rican.

Chisholm publicly supported the ERA and brought the idea of women’s equality to the House floor and along with other prominent women founded the National Women’s Political Caucus in 1971. A year later, Chisholm ran for president of the United States. She campaigned across the country and succeeded in getting her name on twelve primary ballots. At the Democratic National Convention, she received 152 delegate votes, or 10 percent of the total. While she did not win any primaries, Chisholm believed that her campaign for president was a “catalyst for change.”