This Is Our History

Shirley Anita St Hill Chisholm was born in 1924 in Brooklyn, New York. Her family moved to the United States from Barbados in the 1920s. When she was five, she moved to Barbados to live with her grandmother where she was taught to have a strong sense of self. She returned to the U.S in 1934.

Chisholm attended Girl’s High School in Bedford-Stuyvesant and then went to Brooklyn College where she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. She met Conrad Chisholm in the late 1940s and married in 1949. In the 1950s she worked as the director of different childcare centers and began volunteering to different political groups like the League of Women Voters.

She ran for a New York State Assembly position in 1964. She won. She served from 1965 to 68. She became the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1969 and served until 1983.

 In 1972, she started her campaign to run for president and became the first African American woman to run for a major party’s nomination. She became the first woman to appear in the presidential debate. She retired in 1983 and spent her time teaching at universities around the country. She died in 2005.