Shirley Chisholm

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Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to enter Congress. She had a long history of Communist Party USA front affiliation, but entered Congress through the Democratic Party in New York's 11th district.

In 1972 Chisholm made an unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination against George McGovern.

One of her campaign workers was Barbara Lee who was inspired by the experience to seek out her own political career.[1]

National Women's Political Caucus

Betty Friedan joined other leading feminists, such as Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bella Abzug, and Myrlie Evers-Williams in founding the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971.[2]

National Youth Caucus

Over 250 students from 71 Northern California colleges gathered at a National Youth Caucus (NYC) conference Saturday in an effort to insure maximum representation of 18-24 year-olds at the 1972 Democratic National Convention. The conference was held at San Jose State College. A California Black Caucus also met Saturday at Garden Oaks School in East Palo Alto, drawing about 300 blacks from Northern California. Assemblyman Willie Brown (Dem—San Francisco) told the delegates that a solid concentration of black political power could give them considerable influence at the Democratic National Convention in Miami in July. He encouraged them to vote for a black candidate on the first ballot at the convention, no matter who they might actually be supporting. Rep. Shirley Chisholm (Dem—New York) is the only black candidate so far. Both meetings discussed youth representation at the February 12 district caucuses which each presidential candidate will hold to recommend a slate of pledged delegates and a representative to the candidate's state organizing committee.

Leading the Stanford delegation to the youth conference were ASSU Co-President Larry Diamond, Paula Johnson, Joel Kenwood, Connie Peterson and Zach Zwerdling. They are the five members of the central committee of Northern California's NYC Conference. Diamond also serves as State Chairman of the California NYC. Sen. Alan Cranston (Dem—Calif.) told the opening session of the conference that the NYC "can do a lot to shape the choices this nation and this state make next year." He added that he shared young people's "frustration over the way things are going", but that he also believed that "change can be achieved with a little more effort and organization."

Like Cranston, State Assemblyman Ken Meade (Dem—Berkeley) spoke of the power of young people in the elctoral process. Meade noted that in 1968 President Nixon carried California by 500,000 votes and that there will be at least 1.5 million 18-24 year olds casting their first votes in 1972. Taking these figures into account, Meade said that "without carrying California, Nixon would not have been elected President in 1968 and the youth vote assures that he will not win in 1972." He advised "Don't just work within the system, take advantage of it." San Francisco Sheriff Richard Hongisto claimed that "policemen are moving us towards a police state from the bottom all the way up to Attorney General John Mitchell." Hongisto, who has been a law enforcement officer for several years, was the upset winner in his race to be elected Sheriff last year. He urged his audience to "work to destroy those racist, sexist stereotypes of our decadent society." National Chairman of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) Allard Lowenstein, a former New York Congressman and organizer of the 1968 "Dump Johnson" movement, said that "four more years of an administration steeped in deception" would be severely damaging to "the whole fabric of freedom in this country."

Speakers at the closing session of the conference were state Assemblyman John Burton, former Stanford Black Student Union president Leo Bazile, and Yvonne Westbrook unsuccessful candidate last year for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.[3]

Founding Members CBC

The following were founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus:[4]


In 1981 Shirley Chisholm was a Vice President of Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization[5].

Annointing Bella

On her first day in Congress on Jan. 21, 1971, abjuring the meekness and deference expected of freshmen legislators, Bella Abzug dismayed her colleagues by introducing a House resolution calling for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Indochina by July 4, 1971, a gesture whose efficacy was purely symbolic. In further defiance of political norms, when House proceedings ended that day, Abzug stood on the steps of the Capitol while fellow New York Rep. Shirley Chisholm administered a special peace oath to her before an assemblage of roughly 600 members of Women Strike for Peace, several congressmen and a Harlem youth group that endorsed her efforts with shouts of "Give 'em hella, Bella."[6]

The Rainbow

According to Paul Ortiz;

Likewise, there were many Obama activists who had campaigned for the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. It is impossible to imagine Senator Obama's victory without the precedent of Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. The Rainbow excited and recruited tens of thousands of gay, Latino, Native American, white, Asian, and African-Americans into electoral politics, social movements and union organizing in the US in the 1980s. The Rainbow sustained and supported numerous progressive politicians, including Paul Wellstone, Tammy Baldwin and Harold Washington. The Rainbow Coalition - and Jackson as leader - had many limitations. Even so, the organization provided one of the few spaces for progressive movement organizing to take place in the Age of Reagan. The Rainbow increased working-class voter registration, promoted Shirley Chisholm for vice president, stood in solidarity with the Pittston coal strike, and was a counterweight to the conservative Democratic Leadership Council.[7]

The Black Scholar

Chisholm was a contributor to The Black Scholar.[8]

External links



  1. Shirley Chisholm's 1972 Presidential Campaign, University of Illinois, Chicago, February 2005
  2. Obituary
  3. [The Stanford Daily, Volume 160, Issue 64, 25 January 1972]
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named history
  5. IVI-IPO Letterhead July 23 1981
  6. [1]
  7. On the Shoulders of Giants Tuesday, 25 November 2008 16:16 By Paul Ortiz, t r u t h o u t
  8. The Black Scholar