This Day in History

Jan. 25, 1972: Shirley Chisholm Began Historic Campaign for President

Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Women's History
Shirley Chisholm '72 | Zinn Education Project

Shirley Chisholm ’72 material. Source: Lolly Eggers Papers, Iowa Women’s Archives

On Jan. 25, 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress, opened her historic campaign for U.S. President in Brooklyn, New York.

She stated that 1972 must be the year that:

Women, Blacks, brown, the young, the old, activists for social change, and just people who are tired of reading the election results before the votes are counted — are going to prove that our candidates and our policies and our government are not the exclusive preserve of the financial community, the political establishment, and the opinion polls. [Watch full speech at C-SPAN.]

Starting her career as an early childhood teacher, Chisholm spoke out for civil rights and women’s rights, a minimum family income; she opposed wiretapping, domestic spying, and the Vietnam War.

Learn more, including about Chisholm’s experiences growing up and as an educator that led to her political activism in the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class and from the film Chisholm ’72 Unbought and Unbossed. For young children. we recommend the picture book, She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley ChisholmPlace the role of Chisholm in historical context with Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All.