US Congress Introduces Resolution Honoring Shirley Chisholm

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Published on November 14, 2018 with No Comments

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Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

Caribbean American U.S. Congresswomen Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY-09) and Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), joined by 60 representatives, introduced a resolution acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the election of Shirley Chisholm as the first Caribbean African-American woman in Congress. U.S. Senate Minority Leader.  Clark, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants stated Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), will introduce a companion bill in the Senate next week.

The bill’s introduction comes days after a historic number of women were elected to the United States Congress, including Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Jahana Hayes (CT-05) – the first Black women to represent New England in Congress. 

A native of New York, Chisholm served in the New York State Assembly before she became the first Caribbean and black woman to be elected to the United States Congress. Chisholm was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the first Black woman to seek a major party’s nomination for president.

“Shirley Chisholm, a proud Brooklynite, created a path for me and the 40 other Black women members of Congress who have served after her,” said Congresswoman Clarke (NY-09). “She fought every day for the people of Brooklyn and for Americans across this great nation. Her definitive contributions were numerous, including creating nutrition assistance programs, expanding health care services for parents and children, increasing the minimum wage, supporting veterans, and providing opportunities for women in college, graduate school, and collegiate and professional sports with the enactment of Title IX,” said Clarke. “She was a voice for a vulnerable and marginalized people.”

“Shirley Chisholm was my lifelong friend and mentor. I was incredibly lucky to meet her as a college student and work on her historic presidential campaign. Working for her showed me the power of women ‘unbought and unbossed’ women, especially women of color, to change our country,” said Congresswoman Lee (CA-13). “On the 50th anniversary of her election to Congress, it is fitting that we are welcoming an unprecedented number of women, and women of color, to Congress. None of us would be here today without Congresswoman Chisholm, who paved the way. She was an advocate for the most vulnerable among us, but her work is not finished. We must keep pushing for progress so that every American can live with freedom and dignity.”

“With this resolution, we celebrate a fellow New Yorker and Brooklynite, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Congresswoman Chisholm is the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress and the first African American to run for president of the United States. She was a true American hero who worked tirelessly to give voice to the voiceless and advocate for her constituents,” said Schumer. “I am honored to join Congresswomen Yvette Clarke (NY-09) and Barbara Lee (CA-13) in introducing this resolution, which will serve as a reminder to all Americans to stay ‘unbought and unbossed’.”

In addition to Clarke and Lee, the House bill is cosponsored by sixty Members from across the country.

ABOUT SHIRLEY CHISHOLM

Chisolm was born to Caribbean parents.  Her mother, Ruby Seale, was born in Christ Church, Barbados, and arrived in New York City aboard the S.S. Pocone on March 8, 1921. Her father, Charles Christopher St. Hill, was born in Guyana, lived in Barbados for a while,and then arrived in the United States in 1923.  

Chisholm was a Democratic member of the New York State Assembly from 1965 to 1968, By May 1965 she had already been honored in a “Salute to Women Doers” affair in New York. One of her early activities in the Assembly was to argue against the state’s literacy test requiring English, holding that just because a person “functions better in his native language is no sign a person is illiterate.” By early 1966 she was a leader in a push by the statewide Council of Elected Negro Democrats for black representation on key committees in the Assembly.

Her successes in the legislature included getting unemployment benefits extended to domestic workers.  She also sponsored the introduction of a SEEK program (Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge) to the state, which provided disadvantaged students the chance to enter college while receiving intensive remedial education.

In August 1968, she was elected as the Democratic National Committeewoman from New York State. In 2015, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Chisholm the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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