Shirley Chisholm

Quick Look At CHisholm

Shirley Chisholm was the first African American congresswoman, and she was also the first African American, and African American woman to run for president for one of the two major political parties.

Early Life and Education

Shirley Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill on November 30th, 1924. She was born and raised in a predominately Black neighborhood in Brooklyn. Chisholm was the oldest of four children in her household, all of whom were girls. Both of Shirley's parents were immigrants. Her father, Charles St. Hill was from Guyana and worked as a factory worker. Her mother, Ruby St. Hill was a seamstress from Barbados. Chisholm attended Brooklyn Girls' High School and graduated in 1942. She then went to Brooklyn College, where she won many awards for her work on the debate team She then graduated in 1946. After graduating, she went on to become a nursery school teacher, before going back to school. She attended Columbia University where she earned her master's degree in elementary education in 1951. In 1949, Chisholm married Conrad Q. Chisholm, a private investigator from Jamaica.


In 1960, after becoming a consultant to the New York City Division of Daycare, Chisholm joined the NAACP and many other Civil Rights and activist organizations. In 1964, she became the second Black person appointed to the New York State Legislature. In 1968, redistricting formed a predominately Democratic district in Chisholm's neighborhood. This compelled her to run for a seat in Congress, and after winning and landing a seat, she made history by becoming the first African American congresswoman. In 1969, Chisholm, along with others founded the Congressional Black Caucus. She worked to improve minority education and improve career opportunities for minorities. In 1972, Chisholm ran for President and became the nominee for the Democratic presidential party. At this point, she made history by becoming the first African American and African American woman to run for President of The United States. Unfortunately, she faced discrimination, which kept her from becoming president. Chisholm was unable to participate in presidential debates, and she was only allowed one speech throughout her entire campaigning process. Despite her obstacles, she kept going. In 1977, Chisholm made history yet again, by becoming the first woman to serve on the Congress committee "House Rules." That same year, she and her husband had a divorce, and she remarried to Arthur Hardwick Jr., who worked as a New York State Legislator. In 1983, she retired from Congress and founded the National Political Congress of Black Women. On January 1st, 2005, Chisholm passed away at the age of 80.

In 2015 she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Overall, Shirley Chisholm was an extremely brave individual who was willing to do what it took to make a change. She never stopped trying and was truly an inspiration to millions of people around the world.