November 5: Shirley Chisholm Became the First Black American Woman Elected to Congress in 1968

0 Posted by - November 5, 2020 - On This Date

Photo credits: New York Times Co./Getty Images

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (pictured in front of crowd) was a Brooklyn, New York-born politician and educator whose passion for social justice led her to pursue a career in politics.

After four years on the New York state legislature, Chisholm ran as the Democratic candidate for New York’s 12th District congressional seat and won. With her election into the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 5, 1968, representing New York for seven terms, she made history as America’s first Black congresswoman. 

Originally assigned to the House Forestry Committee, Chisholm switched onto the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and later the Education and Labor Committee. She was known for opposing the military draft and championing for equality in minority education and employment opportunities.

During Chisholm’s time in Congress, she hired only women for her office, half of whom were Black. In 1971, Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

On Jan. 25, 1972, Chisholm became the first major-party black candidate for president of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. She received 152 first-ballot votes at the party’s national convention that year. However, she lost against George McGovern during the primaries.

After she left Congress in 1983, Chisholm taught and lectured at Mount Holyoke College, a women’s liberal arts school in Massachusetts. She died in 2005 at the age of 80

Reference: Ramos, D. (2012 November 02) This Day in Black History: Nov. 5, 1968. Retrieved from

* writer and historian Victor Trammell edited and contributed to this report.

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