She was a Congresswoman, representing New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1968, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress. On January 25, 1972, she became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination (Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination). She received 152 first-ballot votes at the 1972 Democratic National Convention.
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY
From 1953 to 1959, she was director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center. From 1959 to 1964, she was an educational consultant for the Division of Day Care.
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY
Chisholm was assigned to the House Agricultural Committee. Given her urban district, she felt the placement was irrelevant to her constituents and shocked many by asking for reassignment. She was then placed on the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Soon after, she voted for Hale Boggs as House Majority Leader over John Conyers. As a reward for her support, Boggs assigned her to the much-prized Education and Labor Committee, which was her preferred committee. She was the third highest-ranking member of this committee when she retired from Congress.
All those Chisholm hired for her office were women, half of them black. Chisholm said that during her New York legislative career, she had faced much more discrimination because she was a woman than because she was black.
In the 1972 U.S. presidential election, she made a bid for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. She survived three assassination attempts during the campaign. She campaigned in 12 states and won the Louisiana, Mississippi, and New Jersey primaries earning 152 delegates. However, she lost the hotly contested primaries to George McGovern at the convention in Miami Beach, Florida. At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as a symbolic gesture, McGovern opponent Hubert H. Humphrey released his black delegates to Chisholm, giving her a total of 152 first-ballot votes for the nomination.Chisholm's base of support was ethnically diverse and included the National Organization for Women. Chisholm said she ran for the office "in spite of hopeless odds... to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo." Among the volunteers who were inspired by her campaign was Barbara Lee, who continued to be politically active and was elected as a congresswoman 25 years later. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem attempted to run as Chisholm delegates in New York.
Chisholm created controversy when she visited rival and ideological opposite George Wallace in the hospital soon after his shooting in May 1972, during the 1972 presidential primary campaign. Several years later, when Chisholm worked on a bill to give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage, Wallace helped gain votes of enough Southern congressmen to push the legislation through the House.
From 1977 to 1981, during the 95th Congress and 96th Congress, Chisholm was elected to a position in the House Democratic leadership, as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, Chisholm worked to improve opportunities for inner-city residents. She was a vocal opponent of the draft and supported spending increases for education, health care and other social services, and reductions in military spending.
In 1970, she authored a child care bill. The bill passed the House and the Senate, but was vetoed by President Richard Nixon, who called it "the Sovietization of American children".
In the area of national security and foreign policy, Chisholm worked for the revocation of Internal Security Act of 1950. She opposed the American involvement in the Vietnam War and the expansion of weapon developments. During the Jimmy Carter administration, she called for better treatment of Haitian refugees.
In 1978, she married Arthur Hardwick, Jr., a Buffalo businessman who died in 1986. Chisholm had no children and moved to Florida when she retired.
After retirement she resumed her career in education, teaching politics and women's studies and being named to the Purington Chair at Mount Holyoke College from 1983 to 1987. In 1985 she was a visiting scholar at Spelman College. In 1984 and 1988, she campaigned for Jesse Jackson for the presidential elections. In 1990, Chisholm, along with 15 other African-American women and men, formed the African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom. In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton nominated her to the ambassadorship to Jamaica, but she could not serve due to poor health. In the same year she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
Chisholm retired to Florida and died on January 1, 2005, in Ormond Beach near Daytona Beach. She was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York.
In February 2005, Shirley Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed, a documentary film, aired on U.S public television. It chronicled Chisholm's 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was directed and produced by independent, African-American filmmaker Shola Lynch. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. On April 9, 2006, the film was announced as a winner of a Peabody Award.
- Chisholm, Shirley (1970). Unbought and Unbossed. Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-395-10932-8.
- Chisholm, Shirley (2010). In Scott Simpson. Unbought and Unbossed: Expanded 40th Anniversary Edition. Take Root Media. ISBN 978-0-9800590-2-1., Also available via the editor Scott Simpson's site.
- Chisholm, Shirley (1973). The Good Fight. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-010764-2.
In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante listed Shirley Chisholm on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.