Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, died on January 1, 2005. She was 80 years old. Chisholm had an influential political career. In 1968, she was elected to Congress from New York City. She served until 1983, when she retired. In 1972, Chisholm became the first black person to seek the Democratic Presidential nomination. She won 152 delegates. Jesse Jackson called her a "woman of great courage . . . who refused to accept the ordinary." Chisholm described her approach to life by saying, "You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining."
Selected Shirley Chisholm Quotations
• I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin. When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free. • Of my two "handicaps" being female put more obstacles in my path than being black. • My God, what do we want? What does any human being want? Take away an accident of pigmentation of a thin layer of our outer skin and there is no difference between me and anyone else. All we want is for that trivial difference to make no difference. • Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread and deepseated, that it is invisible because it is so normal. • We Americans have a chance to become someday a nation in which all racial stocks and classes can exist in their own selfhoods, but meet on a basis of respect and equality and live together, socially, economically, and politically. • In the end antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing - antihumanism. • The United States was said not to be ready to...
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