Early Life

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Shirley Anita (St. Hill) Chisholm, born the first daughter of West Indian immigrants, received her early education in Barbados. In 1934, she returned to Brooklyn and enrolled in the public schools. She received a bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1946 and a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1951. She began her teaching career in 1946 at Mount Calvary Day Care Center.

The 1960’s

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

In 1960, Chisholm cofounded the Unity Democratic Club, which aimed to provide candidates for the Seventeenth Assembly District. In 1964, Chisholm became a candidate and was elected to the New York State Assembly, where she served until 1968. After she was elected the first African American United States congresswoman in 1968, she was in office for seven terms.

In 1969, Chisholm received national attention when she proposed a bill in support of minimum wages for domestic workers. Also, in 1972, Chisholm became the first African American and the first woman to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Impact

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Chisholm was responsible for several pieces of legislation that helped the disadvantaged, especially minority students and minority female domestic employees.

Subsequent Events

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

In 1982, Chisholm retired from Congress and returned to her first love, teaching. In 1983, she was named Purington Professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Chisholm died on January 1, 2005 at the age of 80.

Additional Information

(American Culture and Institutions Through Literature, 1960-1969)

Chisholm published two autobiographical books entitled Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973).