Shirley Chisholm Runs for President

Mark Walston

On January 15, 1972, Shirley Chisholm, Democratic member of Congress from New York’s Twelfth District, announced her candidacy for President of the United States – the first African-American woman to seek the nation’s highest office.

Women and blacks had previously run for president on minor party tickets — Sen. Margaret Chase Smith from Maine had campaigned for the Republican Party’s nomination in 1964 — but Chisholm’s candidacy was a double first in the history of the Democratic party and American politics.

A former schoolteacher from Brooklyn, Chisholm became an outspoken advocate of equal rights for women and minorities, a tireless supporter of programs that brought opportunity for the poor and disenfranchised.  In 1964 she was elected to the New York State Assembly, where she successfully pushed through bills that provided assistance for poor students to go to college, to provide employment insurance coverage for domestic employees, and to reverse a…

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