Shirley Chisholm, First Black Woman Elected to Congress.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman, Yvette D. Clarke, has joined a move by United States Congressional representatives in introducing a resolution acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the election of Shirley Chisholm as the first Caribbean and African-American woman in the United States Congress.
Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York, said US Senate Minority Leader, Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, will introduce a companion bill in the US Senate next week.
The bill’s introduction comes a few days after the Democratic Party defeated the Republican Party on Tuesday, in the US midterm elections, in regaining control of the US House of Representatives.
A record number of women were elected to the House of Representatives, including Ayanna Pressley in Maine and Jahana Hayes in Connecticut, the first Black women to represent New England in Congress.
The late Chisholm, was born in Brooklyn, on November 30, 1924, to Caribbean immigrant parents, Charles and Ruby Seale St. Hill.
Chisholm died on January 1, 2005, in Florida, after suffering several strokes. She was 80.
Chisholm, whose mother was Barbadian and father was Guyanese, served in the New York State Assembly before becoming the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress, representing the then 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn.
The outspoken Chisholm was also a founding member of the US Congressional Black Caucus and the first Black woman to seek a major party’s nomination for president of the United States.
“Shirley Chisholm, a proud Brooklynite, created a path for me and the 40 other Black women members of Congress who have served after her,” Clarke told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), adding, “She fought every day for the people of Brooklyn and for Americans across this great nation.”
“Her definitive contributions were numerous, including creating nutrition assistance programs, expanding health care services for parents and children, increasing the minimum wage, supporting veterans, and providing opportunities for women in college, graduate school, and collegiate and professional sports with the enactment of Title IX,” added Clarke.
“She was a voice for a vulnerable and marginalized people.”
California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who represents the 13th Congressional District in California, said Chisholm was her “lifelong friend and mentor”.
“I was incredibly lucky to meet her as a college student and work on her historic presidential campaign. Working for her showed me the power of women, ‘unbought and unbossed’ women, especially women of color, to change our country.”
On the 50th anniversary of Chisholm’s election to the US Congress, Lee said: “It is fitting that we are welcoming an unprecedented number of women, and women of color, to Congress.”
“None of us would be here today without Congresswoman Chisholm, who paved the way. She was an advocate for the most vulnerable among us, but her work is not finished. We must keep pushing for progress so that every American can live with freedom and dignity,” Lee said.
With the resolution, Schumer said Chisholm is deservingly celebrated, stating that she was “a true American hero who worked tirelessly to give voice to the voiceless and advocate for her constituents.
“I am honored to join Congresswomen Yvette Clarke and Barbara Lee in introducing this resolution, which will serve as a reminder to all Americans to stay ‘unbought and unbossed’,” said Schumer, alluding to Chisholm’s mantra.
The resolution resolves that “the House of Representatives acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the election of Shirley Anita St Hill Chisholm, the first African-American woman in Congress,” and “pays tribute to the service of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, her work to improve the lives of women and minorities, her steadfast commitment to demonstrating the power of compassion, and her dedication to justice and equality.”
The resolution also recognizes Chisholm’s “dedicated work in promoting the rights of all individuals in the United States, particularly in the areas of education, employment, and health care; and appreciates Congresswoman Chisholm’s extraordinary work, the example of her life, and her legacy, which have inspired and empowered many to devote their lives to public service.” (CMC)