Shirley Chisholm

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I don't measure America by its achievement but by its potential.

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (30 November 19241 January 2005) was an American politician, educator and author. In 1968, she became the first African American woman elected to Congress, representing New York's 12th District for seven terms until 1983. On January 23, 1972, she became the first African American candidate for a major party nomination for President of the United States, winning 162 delegates - the closest any woman had ever come to winning the nomination before Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 campaign.


Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time.
  • The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers — a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so.
    • For the Equal Rights Amendment (10 August 1970).
  • Of my two handicaps, being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.
    • Reported in "Shirley Chisholm Kicks Off Campaign for U.S. Presidency" by Ronald E. Kisner, Jet‎, Vol. 41, no. 20 (Feb. 1972), p. 12.
  • The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, 'It's a girl.'
    • Reported in Anthology : Quotations and Sayings of People of Color (1973) by Walter B. Hoard, p. 36.

Unbought and Unbossed (1970)[edit]

  • I was well on the way to forming my present attitude toward politics as it is practiced in the United States; it is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gelded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own: their votes. And who benefits the most? The lawyers.
    • p. 37.
  • Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time. Even when the problems it ignores build up to crises and erupt in strikes, riots, and demonstrations, it has not moved. Its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings or, in extreme cases, to appoint a commission.
    • p. 104.
  • When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.
    • p. 108.
  • The difference between de jure and de facto segregation is the difference between open, forthright bigotry and the shamefaced kind that works through unwritten agreements between real estate dealers, school officials, and local politicians.
    • p. 160.
  • I don't measure America by its achievement but by its potential.
    • p. 175.

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