You are watching: First black woman to run for president
Robert Gottlieb was standing by the luggage carousel wait for his baggage to arrive after he landed in Raleigh, north Carolina in 1972 when was met with shock. There was no doubt those to be his boxes, but someone had written all over one the them, “Go residence n*****.”
It to be clear what was inside the boxes: brochures and also bumper sticker labels for Shirley Chisholm’s presidential campaign, for which he had actually been hired as the student coordinator. “That’s exactly how the campaign began,” Gottlieb called Smithsonian newspaper in 2016.
That anonymous authorize of hatred, even levels removed indigenous Chisholm herself, is proof of the type of language and also insults that were gift hurled in ~ the candidate — yet she let none of the shake she at all. Together the first major-party black American to operation for president, she forged front fearlessly, to run to stand for all the human being of the nation equally, no matter how they perceived her, together she announced in ~ Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church ~ above January 25, 1972, once she declared her candidacy.
“I am not the candidate of black America, although i am Black and also proud,” the daughter that West Indian immigrant said. “I am no the candidate that the women’s motion of this country, although i am a woman, and I am equally proud of that… ns am the candidate of the human being of America. And my presence prior to you now symbolizes a brand-new era in American political history.”
And that was precisely what her historical presidential operation did.
Chisholm already made history as the an initial Black congresswoman
By the moment Chisholm was putting her hat in the ring for the 1972 democratic presidential bid together with white masculine candidates George McGovern, hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, Henry M. Jackson and George Wallace, she had already been a barrier breaker, many notably becoming the first Black congresswoman in 1968.
The Brooklyn-born politician was a former nursery college teacher turned new York City division of Day care consultant, who was elected as a new York State assemblywoman in 1964. But it was throughout her 1968 project for the brand-new York 12th conference District’s home seat the she truly started to show that she had actually what it took to win a hard-wrought campaign.
She quickly branded herself with toughness, regularly starting off her speeches with “This is Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” She also highlighted diversity by making use of her Spanish language skills, i m sorry she choose up while functioning in education, come speak to she Spanish-speaking constituents.
The tactics worked and also she beat her enemy James Farmer by much more than a two-to-one margin. And in her victory speech, she preserved it about the people. “My dear friends, tonight is a really important night… no so lot for me, yet for you, the world of this community,” she said. “After many years the struggle and also sacrifices on the component of numerous of you here this evening, we have actually at lengthy last to be able to elect now a voice the shall be your voice in the halls that the United says Congress.”
She brought her smarts — and sass — to the House
As a newbie come the house of Representatives, Chisholm to be assigned to a committee. The one chosen for her in spite of her background growing up in the concrete tropical of brand-new York: House agriculture Committee. “Apparently every they know right here in Washington about Brooklyn is that a tree thrived there,” she so famously said that president Barack Obama even quoted it once he awarded her the Presidential Medal of liberty posthumously in 2015.
But she soon found her way, using her education background to fight for the Head start program, as well as school lunches. She likewise was a founding member that the Congressional black Caucus and Congressional Women’s Caucus and also one of only 19 representatives who were willing to organize Vietnam battle hearings.
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Chisholm stepped up and also took she shot at the presidency
While the Civil civil liberties Act the 1964 had only been signed a couple of years prior, discrimination v voting rights was quiet rampant transparent the nation. It to be a time once “judging from what some Republican officials have actually been saying and doing,
But two Black men — Georgia’s Julian Bond and also former Cleveland mayor and congressman Carl Stokes — considered runs and also started strategizing. But Chisholm wasn’t about to sit around. “They to be standing around, peeing on your shoes, for this reason Shirley finally said the hell v it and got a campaign going,” a Chisholm aide said The new York Times. “If she hadn't, we'd still be there is no a black color candidate.”
Bond responded, “She was lacking from most discussions on strategy...We may have actually been peeing on ours shoes, yet if we were, she wasn't approximately to gain splashed.”
Poster because that presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm
Photo: collection of the Smithsonian nationwide Museum of afri American background and Culture, Gifted with pride from Ellen Brooks
Her campaign was not well received, also by other Black politicians
As the campaign was progressing, the Vietnam battle was still gift fought and also the women’s motion was just starting to emerge. Fighting Shirley used it as fuel to forge ahead. “There are civilization in our background who don’t watch left or right, they just look straight ahead,” Obama claimed of her in 2015, noting the she to be “driven through a extensive commitment to justice.”
With the slogan “Unbought and also Unbossed,” Chisholm assumed that she might have the ability to use her historical run come rally up both the female and minority voters. She also heralded a an individual understanding of the requirements of the poor and also disenfranchised an ext than any other candidate.
“But these traits are not the ingredient of which election victories are made,” The new York Times listed of the huge hole in her campaign. “Victory calls for money, well‐placed support and also slick, professionally-led politics organization.”
Indeed, she had actually only began her presidential operation with around $40,000 — the document said the was just a portion of what various other candidates invested on TV ads for simply a primary election in one state. And also on optimal of that, getting top tier support proved to it is in a challenge. Feminist symbol Gloria Steinem, who seemed prefer a likely Chisholm support, sided v her opponent George McGovern, as did Jesse Jackson.
“Mrs. Chisholm encountered a Black leadership that was divided and also occasionally enemy wherever she campaigned,” The new York Times said. “In north Carolina, black leaders went therefore far regarding proclaim publicly that ‘a poll for Shirley Chisholm is a poll for George Wallace,’” introduce to the “semi-reformed segregationist that ran open racist campaign advertisements,” together the Smithsonian explained him.
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And as proof the just exactly how untraditional Chisholm was, as soon as Wallace became paralyzed after ~ an assassination attempt, she went and visited the in the hospital.
Chisholm was proud that she 'shook points up'In the end, the trailblazer just received 152 delegate votes in ~ the democratic National Convention and McGovern go on to win the party’s nomination but lost the presidency to Nixon. However for Chisholm, the wasn’t necessarily defeat. ~ all, from the start, she had said, “Regardless that the outcome, lock will have to remember that a little hundred‐pound woman, Shirley Chisholm, shook points up.”
And she maintained on shaking things up, ultimately serving 7 terms in the U.S. Residence of Representatives, continuing to open up up opportunities everywhere she went, with her well known attitude: “If lock don’t provide you a seat in ~ the table, lug your very own folding chair.”
Chisholm passed away on brand-new Year’s day 2005, but the route she led was one the hasn’t been shed on Kamala Harris, who is the very first female U.S. Vice chairman of Black and South asian descent. “We was standing on the shoulders that Shirley Chisholm and also Shirley Chisholm stood proud,” Harris said.