Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman ever elected to Congress. Her drive pushed her to become one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first Black woman to run for president. Her legacy stands as a trailblazer who opened the door for many women, particularly women of color who want to change the face of politics.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of Chisholm’s election to Congress, New York Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke and California Congresswoman Barbara Lee have introduced a resolution that would recognize Chisholm’s historical feats. Sixty other representatives back the bill, which is supported by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who will introduce a companion bill in the Senate, Senate Democrats announced in a press release.
“[Chisholm’s] definitive contributions were numerous, including creating nutrition assistance programs, expanding health care services for parents and children, increasing the minimum wage, supporting veterans, and providing opportunities for women in college, graduate school, and collegiate and professional sports,” Congresswoman Clarke said in a press release. “She was a voice for a vulnerable and marginalized people.”
The resolution proves itself to be incredibly timely, as many historical firsts took place on the night of the midterm elections. Ayanna Pressley became the first Black woman elected to represent Massachusetts in Congress; Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim women elected to Congress; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest congresswoman-elect; Sharice Davids along with Deb Haaland became the first Native American women elected, and many others became the first representatives for their communities.
For these amazing women, Chisholm walked so they could run.
“Working for [Chisholm] showed me the power of ‘unbought and unbossed’ women,” Congresswoman Lee said. “On the 50th anniversary of her election to Congress, it is fitting that we are welcoming an unprecedented number of women, and women of color… None of us would be here today without Congresswoman Chisholm, who paved the way.”
The bill asks that all of Chisholm’s accomplishments and work be both acknowledged and paid tribute to by the House of Representatives.
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