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Biographies Unit Biographies

Shirley Chisholm 1924–2005
First African American Congresswoman

Shirley Chisholm was an outspoken political leader during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1968, Chisholm became the first African American woman to be elected to Congress. She served seven terms. She worked for civil rights, women's rights, and programs to help children. She spoke out against the Vietnam War.

In politics, Chisholm was known for her independence and strong opinions. Her campaign slogan was “Fighting Shirley Chisholm—Unbought and Unbossed.” Even as a child, she was fearless. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and spent part of her childhood in the West Indies. Later she returned to New York to finish school. In college, she won prizes for her debating skills.

In 1972, Chisholm took another bold political step. She announced that she was running for President of the United States. She began a campaign to convince Democrats to nominate her as their presidential candidate. Although she did not get the nomination, she made history by being the first woman ever to try for it.

Comprehension Check

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to do what?

Critical Thinking

What do you think Shirley Chisholm's campaign slogan meant?