January 3

 January 3, 1969 – Shirley Chisholm – The First African American Congresswoman 

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Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm

On January 3, 1969 Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm began her initial term as the first African American woman in congress.  She was elected to to serve in congress on November 5, 1968.   Congresswoman Chisholm was a representative of New York’s 12th Congressional District. She served seven terms until January 3, 1983 in congress. She was one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971.  On July 13, 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American Presidential nominee and female Democratic Presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention. Chisholm received 152 first-ballot votes at the Miami Beach, Florida convention.

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Founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Standing L-R: Parren Mitchell, Charles Rangel, Bill Clay, Ron Dellums, George W. Collins, Louis Stokes, Ralph Metcalfe, John Conyers, and Walter Fauntroy. Seated L-R: Robert N.C. Nix, Sr., Charles Diggs, Shirley Chisholm, and Augustus F. Hawkins.

She received her undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College and a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University.  She began her career prior to college as a teacher and continued her educational career after leaving congress at Mount Holyoke College. Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York and died on January 1, 2005 in Ormond Beach, Florida at age 80.  Shirley Chisholm said of her legacy, “I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”

Ed Towns, Shirley Chisholm, Gwen Towns

Congressman Edlophus Towns (left) and his wife, Gwen Towns (right) pose with former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (center)