Shirley Chisholm Awtt Portrait

Shirley Chisholm

First Black Congresswoman : 1924-2005

“… prejudice and hatred built the nation’s slums, maintains them and profits by them. … Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.”

Biography

“Fighting Shirley Chisholm — Unbought and Unbossed” was her campaign slogan for New York’s Twelfth Congressional District race in 1968. Chisholm won and then stayed true to her words throughout her political career. She opposed the Vietnam War and weapons development at a time when it was unpopular to do so, and fought relentlessly for the rights of women, children, minorities, and people with low incomes.

Chisholm introduced groundbreaking legislation to establish publicly supported daycare centers and to expand unemployment insurance to cover domestic workers. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, holding it accountable as “the conscience of Congress.” In 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, the first African American woman to do so. Although she didn’t receive the nomination, she won twenty-eight delegates and gathered 152 votes at the Democratic National Convention.

The daughter of immigrant parents from Barbados and Guyana, Chisolm grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she remained passionately committed to her constituency. Before entering politics, she was a nursery school teacher, daycare center director, and a consultant for the New York Department of Social Services, where she became well acquainted with the struggles of the poor and disenfranchised.  She chronicled her political career in two autobiographical books, Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973).

Chisholm continued her advocacy after she retired from Congress in 1983, going on to cofound the National Political Congress of Black Women, to teach at Mount Holyoke College and Spelman College, and to lecture around the country. At every turn, she invited others to join her in fighting for a more just society. “We need men and women … who will dare to declare that they are free of the old ways that have led us wrong, and who owe nothing to the traditional concentrations of capital and power that have subverted this nation’s ideals.”

Programs

Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) offers a variety of ways to engage with its portraits and portrait subjects. Host an exhibit, use our free lesson plans and educational programs, or engage with a member of the AWTT team or portrait subjects.

Education

Education

AWTT has educational materials and lesson plans that ask students to grapple with truth, justice, and freedom.

Community Engagement

Exhibits & Community Engagement

AWTT encourages community engagement programs and exhibits accompanied by public events that stimulate dialogue around citizenship, education, and activism.

Contact Us to Learn How to Bring a Portrait Exhibit to Your Community.

We are looking forward to working with you to help curate your own portrait exhibit. Contact us to learn about the availability of the AWTT portraits, rental fees, space requirements, shipping, and speaking fees. Portraits have a reasonable loan fee which helps to keep the project solvent and accessible to as many people as possible. AWTT staff is able help exhibitors to think of creative ways to cover these expenses.