Before there was Sister Maxine (Waters), there was Shirley. Before there was Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm.
Shirley was not only the first Black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968, she was the first Black candidate for President for a major political party and the first woman to run as a Democratic candidate.
Before becoming a public servant, Shirley was an educational consultant becoming a leading authority on child welfare and early education issues.
After going from being a State Senator to a US congresswoman, she eventually decided to run for President of the United States in 1971 campaigning under her legendary slogan "Unbought and Unbossed slogan". Not surprisingly, her campaign was met with tremendous obstacles based on race, but she also met even more intense resistance for being a woman running for President (some things never change, eh?). Not only did she receive little support for her Democratic colleagues, she received little support from her Black male colleagues and later stated: " "When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men....They think I am trying to take power from them. The black man must step forward, but that doesn't mean the black woman must step back."
After her unsuccessful presidential bid, Chisholm continued to serve in Congress. She worked to improve conditions for inner city residents and social services, opposed the Vietnam War and advocated against the military industrial complex. After retiring from Congress in 1982, she returned to her beginnings as an educator and lectured extensively across the country and taught undergraduate courses in politics, women and race at Mt. Holyoke college. She was nominated to serve as ambassador to Jamaica by President Bill Clinton but declined due to health issues and was later inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993. Nine years after her passing in 2005, she was posthumously awarded by the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2014.
May Shirley's persistence and determination inspire us all.