Before Barack and Hillary, there was Shirley.
It was in 1972 that Shirley Chisholm, the first African American Congresswoman, declared her candidacy for President of the United States, making her both the first woman and the first African-American to do so.
Seeking the Democratic nomination, Chisholm was up against politicians like George McGovern and Hubert Humphrey. While she knew she had no true shot at winning at the time, Chisholm admitted that her campaign was more symbolic than anything. It was in an effort to prove that Americans could and would vote for a Black woman.
Long before the nation was chanting “Yes we can” in an era of change, Shirley Chisholm ran on the slogan “Unbought and Unbossed.” Traveling the nation, Chisholm ran on the platform of being the candidate of the American people—not just of African-Americans or women.
“I stand before you today, to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American people will not vote for qualified candidates, simply because he is not white or because she is not a male,” Chisholm told supporters at the inception of her campaign. “I do not believe that in 1972, the great majority of Americans will continue to harbor such narrow and petty prejudice.”
As inspiring as she was, her time on the campaign trail wasn’t easy. She survived multiple assassination attempts, and had to eventually sue in order to be given her right to appear in televised debates.
While her run ended in a vote of 10 percent at the Democratic National Convention, it still serves as a significant number that would later pave the way for leaders of the minority.
Equipped with charismatic charm and an endless pot of wisdom, Chisholm always had the right things to say when sparking change and inspiration. Here are Shirley Chisholm’s Top 5 quotes:
- “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
- “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl’.”
- “In the end, anti-Black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”
- “Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.”
- “When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.”