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Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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      “I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud.” This statement was made by a person who believed in equality, a person who strove for her independence despite terrible circumstances. This person was Shirley Chisholm, the first black American woman elected to Congress. Chisholm defied a code that white society had come to believe was an absolute - a code that stated segregation and racism were acceptable. Chisholm, against these odds, triumphed and became one of the most influential women of the last century.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to parents from Barbados and Guyana, Chisholm attended school in Barbados, receiving an excellent education that prepared her for the trials to come. Back in the United States, Chisholm attended college and earned her master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University.

She was active in the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and fought against racism, proving herself in the political arena. Chisholm was determined to end segregation.

In 1964 Chisholm ran for a state assembly seat. She won and served two terms, during which she proposed many bills, including one to raise funding for daycare and schools. Her next goal was to run for the twelfth Congressional district and in 1968 “Fighting Shirley Chisholm - Unbought and Unbossed” was the slogan that appeared all over New York. Despite running against men, she was elected to Congress.

In 1972 Chisholm ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and received an amazing 152 delegate votes, though ultimately she lost to South Dakota Senator George McGovern. She didn’t give up, though, and stayed in the House of Representatives until she retired in 1983.

Shirley Chisholm was born into a rigid society but knew what she could do, and took the opportunity. She should be remembered as a great person because she went the extra mile and accomplished things considered undoable. She made a difference in our world by fighting for what she knew was right.

The belief that one race is superior to another, that skin color should dictate how you are treated, is wrong. Our society is built on the backs of people who were treated like dirt, people like Shirley Chisholm. Parts of America’s past are a disgrace, yet she triumphed over that which was evil. She became one of the most influential women of our day, and through it all, she never gave into discrimination.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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