Maximum Jane Hero: Shirley Chisholm

Legacy

The Congressional Women’s Caucus formed in 1977, Shirley helping to found it and leaving the Education committee to do so. She was the first African-American woman and only the second woman to serve on this committee. From 1977-1981, she served as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.

Fighting for WIC or the Special Supplement Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, she partnered with Republican Bob Dole from Kansas and Democrat George McGovern from South Dakota, to get it passed. Bob and George worked for WIC in the Senate and Shirley worked on it in the House. Too often her name is left out when recounting the fight for WIC.

Throughout her career, Shirley fought for those who needed help. She fought for others, and she had to fight for herself. She continually faced extreme challenges of sexism even more than racism, although it is important to acknowledge both.  She was a trailblazer, leading the way to change the status quo.

We are in an era of immense change, and we are fortunate to have had leaders like Shirley Chisholm to start us on the path of women changing politics. Fortunately, more women are running for office than ever before. So far, 390 women are planning to run for office in the House of Representatives. This is by far the highest in history. Twenty-two of these are non-incumbent black women. To put that into perspective, only 18 black women have a seat in the House of Representatives right now. For the time being, 49 women are expected to run for the Senate which is a 68% increase from 2014.

For women and voters who are on the journey to fight injustice and create change through political means, remember Shirley Chisholm as a catalyst for change; her bravado and courage helps up keep moving. She inspires us still today as a trailblazer woman in office. As we follow her courageous example, may we lead with fervor and consciousness.

Sources:

Bader, Elenor J. (2013, December 1) “Somebody had to do it first”: the story of Shirley Chisholm. Retrieved from http://www.truth-out.org

Hunter, Charlayne (1970, November 1) Unbought and Unbossed. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com

Michels, Kat (2016, September 27) Heroines of History: Shirley Chisholm – A Catalyst of Change. Retrieved from http://businessheroinemagazine.com

Traister, Rebecca (2018, January 19) The Other Women’s March on Washington. Retrieved from https://www.thecut.com

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