Women’s History Month: Remembering Shirley Chisholm, the First Woman or Person of Color to Run for U. S. President

Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm speaking at FSU as a presidential candidate - Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Donn Dughi)
Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm speaking at FSU as a presidential candidate – Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo Credit: State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, Donn Dughi)

Seeing a black person or woman running for the president nowadays isn’t that strange. Back in 1972 when Shirley Chisholm did it, however, it was both radical and unheard of.

The democratic leader, who passed away in 2005 and received a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, is certainly worthy of recognition during the month of March, which is Women’s History Month.

The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor the president can bestow. Chisholm, along with 16 other notable Americans were given the great honor by President Barack Obama.

“Shirley Chisholm’s example transcends her life,” said Obama during the ceremony. “When asked how she’d like to be remembered, she said, ‘I’d like them to say Shirley Chisholm had guts.’ And I’m proud to say it — Shirley Chisholm had guts.”

Chisholm was the first woman or person of color to run for president for a major party. But that wasn’t her only first. She was also the first woman elected to Congress in 1968 and was a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus and later, the Congressional Women’s Caucus.

The “unbought and unbossed,” fearless leader certainly wasn’t celebrated by Congress, but she wasn’t deterred by the unwelcoming environment.

“I have no intention of just sitting quietly and observing,” she once said and she acted on those intentions. Chisholm was appointed to the Veterans’ Affairs Committee where she summarily criticized Republicans and members of her own party for not tackling the needs of the “have nots.”

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SOURCE: EEW Magazine
Alexis Anderson