Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change (Westview Press) by Barbara Winslow (SHS ’63)
In Professor Barbara Winslow´s biography: Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change, Westview Press, she explores the life of a trailblazing feminist who was the first African American woman elected to Congress, and the first African American and the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination for the US presidency. In an article reviewing the book in the Brooklyn Paper, Winslow states “this is the first really scholarly biography of Chisholm, it’s a historic look at her life and accomplishments and relies on materials that have not been used before.”
These include campaign materials and interviews with people who knew Chisholm, including former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem, and even her hairdresser.Chisholm, widely unknown despite her being one of the most famous political figures in history, paved the way for Barack Obama, and who knows, maybe in 2016 for Hillary Clinton. For further descriptions of this great read, check out Sam Robert´s review of Winslow´s book in the New York Times here. Not-to-be-missed!
Champion of African American History: The Honorable Shirley Chisholm of New York
“I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.” – Shirley Chisholm, in her book, Unbought and Unbossed
With her slight build, distinctly precise diction, and relentless energy, Representative Shirley Chisholm of New York will be forever remembered for the ground she broke in Congress, and the ground she laid for millions of women, girls, and African Americans in this country.
In honor of her contributions as the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and a tireless advocate for women, African Americans, and folks who are all too often overlooked or underserved, the U.S. Postal Service has recognized Ms. Chisholm with the issuance of their limited-edition 37th Black Heritage Forever Stamp.
Born in Brooklyn in 1924, Shirley Chisholm’s childhood was split between New York and Barbados, where she lived with her grandmother. Upon graduating from Brooklyn College in 1946, she pursued a career in teaching, eventually earning a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University. She later served as a childcare center director, and an educational consultant for New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare.
Shirley Chisholm was elected in 1968 as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York as the first African American Congresswoman in that history. She spent seven terms in Congress fighting for social justice and access to quality education for all, while championing the rights and empowerment of women, African Americans, the poor.
In addition to serving on the Education and Labor Committee, and the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Chisholm was also one of the founding members of both the Congressional Black Caucus, and the National Organization of Women, while playing a key role the passage of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) legislation.
“Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.” — Shirley Chisholm
In 1972, Chisholm became widely known across the country when she became the first African American to seek a major party’s nomination for president of the United States. In doing so, she challenged countless norms and shattered innumerable barriers which had stood since the dawn of our republic. And it was far from easy. She had to sue her way into televised debates, and survived multiple assassination attempts along the way. Ms. Chisholm did not earn the Democratic Party’s nomination in 1972, but she did earn a place in history, along with the boundless respect of millions of Americans for her fundamental refusal to live life within the confines of society’s expectations. Through her example, future generations gain a better appreciation for what it means to control one’s own destiny.
When she left Congress in 1983, Chisholm returned to teaching, accepting a post at Mount Holyoke College. She died on January 1, 2005 in Ormond Beach, Fla., at the age of 80.
According to the U.S. Postal Service, the stamp was designed using a painting of Chisholm by artist Robert Shetterly. The portrait is taken from a series of paintings titled “Americans Who Tell the Truth.”
This article was published on February 28, 2014 in the Black Voices Blog of the Huffington Post by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls. You can check out the original post here.
The video above and the following article were posted on the WOLB Baltimore website on January 28, 2014. The original can be found here.
Unbought And Unbossed: Shirley Chisholm’s
USPS Black Heritage Stamp Revealed
By NewsOne Now
The first African American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was honored with an official stamp as part of the USPS Black Heritage series. Ronald Stroman, Deputy Postmaster General of USPS, explained on “NewsOne Now” that it’s important to use the stamp to honor her contributions and teach her legacy to young people.
“You have to have a strong foundation and she set that foundation for those who came after,” said Stroman, “and the people who go first often time suffer backlash. She was willing to take on that challenge, willing to be independent and take all of the criticism that came.”
Longtime Park Sloper who founded Shirley Chisholm Project at Brooklyn College writes Chisholm’s first biography in 40 years.
Barbara Winslow is a professor of Women’s Studies at Brooklyn College and a 30-year resident of Park Slope who is responsible for starting and running the Shirley Chisholm Project/Brooklyn Women’s Activism at Brooklyn College.
She was asked to pen the first biography in 40 years on Chisholm for Carol Berkin’s series of books, ‘Lives of American Women’, and jumped at the chance.
Chisholm, who was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1924, became the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and became the first woman to run for president in 1972. She was a sought-after public speaker and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW) who once remarked that, “Women in this country must become revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes.”
Patch had the opportunity to speak with Professor Winslow about Chisholm, the impact she had on her life and the new book, ‘Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change’.
When did you start the Shirley Chisholm Project, and what are some of your biggest achievements with the project to date?
I started the project in 2006, and I would say the overall greatest accomplishment is keeping Shirley Chisholm’s name alive and reintroducing her to a new generation of people in Brooklyn and across the country to whom she was. We also have the largest collection of archival material about Chisholm as part of the project in our library.
We do extraordinary public events around Shirley Chisholm day in November and have had Gloria Steinem, Anita Hill, Melissa Harris-Perry and others come and speak about the importance of Ms. Chisholm and her legacy.
Given your ties to Ms. Chisholm, when did you decide to write her bio and what was it that made you finally decide to do so?
I was asked to write this bio by Carol Berkin, who was a presidential professor at Baruch College before she retired. She was originating a series of books, ‘Lives of American Women’, and wanted me to do one on Shirley Chisholm. As soon as she asked, it took me a ‘New York nanosecond’ to say yes.
What is it about her that’s inspired you so much, and what do you hope readers take from your book?
I was in a liberation group in Seattle, Wash. in 1972 when she ran for president. I believe our group sent $15 to her campaign, which in 1972 was the equivalent of sending her hundreds of dollars, so that was very exciting. She inspired me 40 years ago.
When I was teaching in Brooklyn College, I was reminded that she was a graduate of the college. When I proposed we name a women’s study for research (in her name) I was astounded that many of my colleagues, professors of women’s studies did not know who she was. I was galvanized to create this project so that her life and legacy would not be forgotten. While Chisholm is the focus right now, lives of so many other women need to be written about and understood too.
I think what’s important about this book is that not only is it the first scholarly biography of her, but the book is part of a series that is designed to bring women’s lives into the school’s curriculum, and that’s what I’m very proud of.
Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties offers a focused look at painting, sculpture, graphics, and photography from a decade defined by social protest and American race relations. In observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this exhibition considers how sixty-six of the decade’s artists, including African Americans and some of their white, Latino, Asian American, Native American, and Caribbean contemporaries, used wide-ranging aesthetic approaches to address the struggle for racial justice.
The 1960s was a period of dramatic social and cultural upheaval, when artists aligned themselves with the massive campaign to end discrimination and bridged racial borders through creative work and acts of protest. Bringing activism to bear in gestural and geometric abstraction, assemblage, Minimalism, Pop imagery, and photography, these artists produced powerful works informed by the experience of inequality, conflict, and empowerment. In the process, they tested the political viability of their art, and originated subjects that spoke to resistance, self-definition, and blackness.
Witness: Art and Civil Rights in the Sixties is organized by Teresa A. Carbone, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Kellie Jones, Associate Professor, Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
Major support for this exhibition is provided by the Ford Foundation.
Generous support for the exhibition’s education and public programs is provided by American Express.
Shirley Chisholm Project Director Barbara Winslow celebrates the release of her book, Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst for Change at the North Star Fund Offices on Friday January 10, 2014 with North Star Fund Director Hugh Hogan; Renowned artist and creator of the Shirley Chisholm portrait/Catalyst for Change book cover Linda Stein; Former New York State Supreme Court Justice Emily Jane Goodman; New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; and Penn State Professor and renowned author Julie Gallagher.