10 Shirley Chisholm Quotes That Show Her Determination and Fortitude

Before Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Hillary Clinton and others raised the bar for what Black and female politicians could accomplish in American politics, Shirley Chisholm shined a light on the unexplored path as both the first Black congresswoman and first Black woman to embark on a major-party presidential campaign.

Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Chisholm spent a chunk of her formative years with a grandmother in Barbados, before returning to the Borough of Kings with the West Indian accent that remained for the rest of her life. She spent her early career in the areas of childcare and education, but her days as a college debate champion showcased her rhetorical talents and assertiveness, and by the 1950s, she was using both to elbow her way into the multicultural but male-dominated arena of New York City politics.

After four years on the New York State Assembly, Chisholm defeated James Farmer, co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968. Her colleagues soon learned there would be no overlooking the diminutive but determined Brooklynite, who immediately objected to her appointment to the House Agricultural Committee, and blasted the government’s prioritization of defense spending in her first floor speech.

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