Shirley Chisholm
November 30, 1924 - January 1, 2005

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was the oldest of four daughters born to immigrants from the West Indies, in Brooklyn, NY. Shirley's parents worked in factories and as housecleaners to support their family. They sent Shirley and her sisters to live with their grandmother in Barbados when they were very young so the girls could live a better life on the island and attend good schools. When Shirley was ten she returned to Brooklyn to live with her parents. She was an excellent student and studied hard.

Shirley went to Brooklyn College, where she majored in sociology and joined the debating society. She also worked as a volunteer in the National Urban League and in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), where she talked to people about minority rights. After graduating from college Shirley earned a master's degree in child education and worked at a Harlem nursery school. She also worked hard as a volunteer for the Democratic Party.

In 1964 Shirley decided to become a candidate for the New York State Assembly. She won by a landslide. She helped write and pass laws that would help poor students go to college and helped pass laws that would be fairer for day care providers. In 1968 Shirley won a seat to the House of Representatives where she helped pass more laws to help underprivileged people, especially people who took care of children. In 1972 Shirley also ran a campaign to be president of the United States and said she was, "a candidate for the people." She did not become president, but she was famous for being the first black woman to seek the nation's highest office.

Use the Icon if you would like the paragraphs above read to you. Flash Audio

Additional Note: Sadly Shirley Chisholm passed away on January 1, 2005. You can read her obituary at the New York Times website.

Additional Web Resources: