Shirley Chisholm

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Shirley Chisholm : biography

November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005

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.House resolution 97, Recognizing Contributions, Achievements, and Dedicated Work of Shirley Anita Chisholm, [Congressional Record: June 12, 2001 (House). Page H3019-H3025] From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov] [DOCID:cr12jn01-85] At the 1972 Democratic National Convention, as a symbolic gesture, McGovern opponent Hubert H. Humphrey released his black delegates to Chisholm,Paul Delaney, "Humphrey Blacks to Vote For Mrs. Chisholm First", New York Times, July 11, 1972, p. 1. 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.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6779424/

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.Charles R. Babcock, "Rep. Chisholm Asks Equity For Haiti’s Black Refugees", Washington Post, June 18, 1980.