Itâ€™s official: Hillary Clinton is the first woman presidential nominee in history. As democrats and Americans celebrate Clintonâ€™s accomplishment as being the first woman to secure the backing of a major political party, no woman is more deserving of remembrance during this time than Shirley Chisholm. She is a historical figure with an unprecedented political legacy.
Unbought and Unbosssed
If you donâ€™t know your history, Chisholm was the first African American woman ever elected to Congress in 1968, representing New Yorkâ€™s Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, until her retirement in 1983. Her election to Congress was a prime example of the strength of the black vote, as a result of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
After being elected to Congress, in 1972, she became the first African American to seek nomination for presidency with a major political party.Â A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chisholm boldly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination under the slogan â€œUnbought and Unbossed.â€
She later wrote of her unsuccessful bid, â€œThe next time a woman runs, or a black, or a Jew, or anyone from a group that the country is â€˜not readyâ€™ to elect to its highest office, I believe that he or she will be taken seriously from the startâ€¦ I ran because somebody had to do it first.â€
Chisholm also said that women in this country must become revolutionaries. Indeed, she left a strong legacy as an advocate for minority rights and womenâ€™s liberation. The late, Ohio Congresswoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jonesâ€”a democratic representative for eight years, before her untimely death at age 58â€”once told me, â€œIf there were no Shirley Chisholm, there would be no Stephanie Tubbs Jones.â€
Chisholm died at the age of 80 in 2005. At the time of her passing, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said Chisholm was â€œone of the founding mothers leading the modern day, black political movement,â€ paving the way for Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, and all those yet to come who will run for U.S. President. Lewis told Black Enterprise, â€œAmerican politics will always be indebted to Shirley Chisholm for extending its reach beyond the mainstream.â€
Original BE Board Member
It canâ€™t go without noting that ChisholmÂ was also a member of the original Black EnterpriseÂ Board of Advisors when the magazine was founded in 1970 by Earl G. Graves, Sr. She joined the board along with luminaries and business pioneers Henry Parks, Founder ofÂ Parks Sausage Co.; Freedom National Bankâ€™s William Hudgins; as well as Civil Rights and political leaders John Lewis and Julian Bond, toÂ helpÂ establish the magazine as a force for African American business development and financial empowerment.
Together, they wrote in the magazineâ€™s premier issue, â€œWe feel that the healthâ€”indeed survivalâ€”of this nation will depend upon the extent to which our ethnic minorities will participate and profit from its economic system.â€