You probably remember Shirley Chisholm as the first black woman to go to congress and the first to run for president. But she was more than that; if you take a close look at her life, you’ll see that there was more to her than these achievements. Read on to learn more about this amazing woman.
1. Her Parents Were Immigrants.
Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill (Chisholm was her first husband’s last name) to immigrant parents. Her father (who was a factory worker) was from British Guiana while her mother (who was a seamstress and a domestic worker) was from Barbados. Because of certain circumstances in the family, Chisholm and her three sisters were sent to live to their grandmother in Barbados when they were small children. There, they were exposed to the country’s British-influenced educational system which, according to Chisholm, helped her develop her reading and writing skills.
2. Her Professor Encouraged Her To Create a Career In Politics.
While studying sociology in Brooklyn College, Chisholm became active in debating circles and even won prizes for her debating skills. She also became active in her community and joined city meetings, where she questioned civic leaders about the quality of government services that her predominantly African-American neighbors received. Her skills and passion eventually caught the eye of one of her professors, Louis Warsoff, who told Chisholm that she might want to consider working in politics because of her talent in debate and her powerful way of speaking.
3. She Created Her Own Social Club.
During her time in college, African-American students weren’t allowed to join social clubs. Because of this, Chisholm took it upon herself to create a special group for these students. She called this club “In Pursuit of the Highest In All” or “Ipothia” for short.
4. She Started Out As a Teacher.
After graduating with honors from Brooklyn College, Chisholm worked as a nursery school aide and a teacher in the morning and took classes in the evening to earn a master’s degree in elementary education. She later became the director of the Friends Day Nursery and the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center and even worked as a consultant for the New York City Division of Day Care.
She remained a teacher even until her later years. After retiring from the Congress, she became a professor in Mount Holyoke College (where she taught women’s studies and political science) and a visiting professor at Spelman College.
5. She Loved To Volunteer.
Chiholm was busy with classes and other activities, yet she still took the time to donate her time to the causes that she believed in. She became an Urban League volunteer in college and, while she was working, she volunteered for various organizations such as the Democratic Women’s Workshop and the League of Women Voters.
6. She Was a Co-Founder Of Important Organizations.
During her time as a Congresswoman, Chisholm co-founded the National Women’s Political Caucus. When she retired from Congress, she co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women.
Shirley Chisholm is remarkable because of her political achievements. However, she should also be remembered because of her desire for change in the modern times and her dedication to improving the lives of women.