Remembering Shirley Chisholm in the time of Obama and Hillary
Hillary Clinton might be the first woman in US history to win a nomination from a major political party for presidency. Barrack Obama is the first Afro-American to become the president.
But it was Shirley Chisholm, who along with many other socio-political factors that enabled Obama and Hillary to create history. And after decades she is being remembered exactly for this.
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to US Congress. She represented New York’s 12th Congressional district seven times from 1969 to 1983.
Forty years ago around this time she announced her candidacy for the White House. Though she could not succeed in her bid to become the first woman Afro-American president of US, the symbolism was driven home, strongly.
But over the years Chisholm’s contribution as a politician, activist, author was relegated to the back pages of American history. Now when Hillary’s nomination has created history, Chisholm and her contribution is being dusted up and is discussed in the US.
A hashtag #IKnownow was created by a social entrepreneur, Ky Ekinci to spread her thought and contribution.
“She was well known in the late 60s and 70s. But if you don’t come from that era it is easy to be forgotten” BBC quoted Ky Ekinci as saying.
Chisholm was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York. But she spent her childhood years with her grandmother in Barbados.
After returning to New York she completed her education and qualified as teacher. She developed interest in politics and made history in 1968 when she became the first Afro- American woman to be elected to the US Congress.
In 1972, she announced her presidential bid terming it as a bloodless revolution. She thus became the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s nomination.
Lacking funds, her campaign was badly managed. This gave the feeling that she was not a serious candidate.
There was wide spread feeling that the political establishment of the Democratic party also ignored her.
This prompted her to say “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman, than for being black. Men are men.”
As member of the Congress, Chisholm worked on a Bill to give minimum wages to domestic workers. She was elected as Secretary of the House of Democratic Caucus. She argued for increased spending in education and health care and for reducing military spending.
In 1991, she retired to Florida. When Bill Clinton was the president she was appointed as the Ambassador to Jamaica. But due to poor health she could not take up that responsibility.
She was humanist to the core, who fought against all forms of discrimination.”
“In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.” said Chisholm.
She passed away in 2005. Now after years, her legacy in empowering the women and the Afro-Americans is remembered as ‘Unbought and Unbossed’, like the documentary made on her life was titled.