US Political Trailblazer Shirley Chisholm Honored In NY Exhibit

US political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm honored in NY exhibit

New York, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 19th Jun, 2024) She was the first African American woman in Congress and the first woman and African American to seek the presidential nomination from one of the two major US political parties.

Shirley Chisholm, who would have turned 100 in November, has served as an inspiration to several generations of female and minority politicians, including current Vice President Kamala Harris.

Less than five months before a hotly contested presidential election pitting Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Donald Trump, the Museum of the City of New York is honouring Chisholm's legacy with a special exhibit.

Zinga Fraser, the co-curator of the show titled "Changing the Face of Democracy: Shirley Chisholm at 100" said honouring the politician's legacy was even more important during an election year.

"If there's any person to remind us about democracy and what's possible and where we need to go," that would be Chisholm, Fraser said.

Writing on Chisholm's birthday on November 30, 2020, after she had just been elected the first African American vice president and the first woman in that role, Harris said Chisholm "paved the way for me and so many others."

"We celebrate her brilliance and boldness to break down barriers, fight to increase the minimum wage, and speak for those who otherwise wouldn't have a voice in the political process," Harris wrote on Instagram.

- Catalyst for change -

Born in 1924 in Brooklyn to parents from Barbados and Guyana, Chisholm transformed American democracy in the 1960s and 1970s with her political slogan "Unbought and Unbossed."

In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress and four years later launched a bid for the White House. While she didn't win the nomination of the Democratic Party, she still served as a catalyst for change.

"I ran because somebody had to do it first," she reflected later. "I ran because most people think the country is not ready for a Black candidate, not ready for a woman candidate. Someday..."

During her political career, Chisholm fought for abortion rights, food assistance, education and worker protection, as well as police and prison reform. She also campaigned against the war in Vietnam and apartheid in South Africa.

But even more important is the example she set, according to Fraser.

"I think what you also see as a part of her legacy is just more in terms of women and women of color in the office," Fraser said.

Before Chisholm was elected to the House of Representatives in 1968, there were only four Black men and 11 white women or other minorities in Congress.

According to the Center for American Women and politics, there are now 28 Black women in the House (out of 435 representatives, including 126 women) and one in the Senate (out of 100 senators, including 25 women).

- 'Shirley' on Netflix -

During the 1972 primaries, Chisholm recruited student and activist Barbara Lee, who went on to serve as California's Democratic representative in the House since 1998.

"Shirley Chisholm was more than a mentor to me," 77-year-old Lee wrote on X. "She inspired me to live a life of service, fearlessness, & dedication to justice & equity."

Besides the exhibit, this year Chisholm is also being honoured by a Netflix documentary that was released in March.

In "Shirley," the trailblazing politician, played by actress Regina King, confronts other lawmakers and decides to compete in the primaries alone.