Shirley Chisolm, The First Black Woman in Congress

Born in New York City and raised by her grandmother in Barbados, Shirley Chisolm’s goal for her life was to be a “catalyst for change.”

Shirley earned a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Columbia University in New York and worked her way up to directing day care centers. During this time, she also became very active in her local community politics.

In 1969, she became the first African-American woman elected to Congress, where she went on to serve for seven terms. That year she also became a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and was also a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. The programs in Congress that were most special to her (called “platforms”) were advocating for both education and employment for racial minorities.

In 1972, she became the first African-American woman to be nominated for President, and her campaign slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed.” That election was won by Richard Nixon, but Shirley had broken the barrier.