Did you know that American politician, educator, and author Shirley Anita Chisholm (nee St Hill) was also an alumna of Teachers College, Columbia University? Chisholm earned her MA in elementary education here in 1952, while serving as a teacher's aide in a Harlem nursery school. Following her degree she directed the Friends Day Nursery in Brownsville, Brooklyn -- becoming recognized for her work in early childhood education and welfare -- before she took central stage for a highly successful political career.
Born in Brooklyn on November 20th, 1924,, Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the United States Senate, where she represented New York's 12th Congressional District from 1969-1983. Chisholm was an outspoken proponent of food and nutrition programs for the poor, influencing the nation's Food Stamp Program and creating the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. Despite campaign underfunding, she became in 1971 the first African-American major-party candidate and first woman to run for President of the United States. Her superior oratory skills were evident from an early age -- going back to her undergraduate years at Brooklyn College, where she won prizes in debate. She advocated for inclusion by African Americans in the military and women in general, and her powerful speeches for equal rights were significant to service throughout her lifetime.
Chisholm returned to teaching after seven terms in government. At Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, she held the "Purington Chair" (a post awarded to poet W.H. Auden, Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell, and writer-librarian Arna Bontemps, among others); there she led classes across the curriculum, inspiring students in pursuit of education and democratic ideals. She received honorary degrees from several universities, as well as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, posthumously from Barack Obama.
Named in her honor, the Shirley Chisholm State Park is the largest expanse of New York City parkland covering 407 acres along the shores of Jamaica Bay in southeastern Brooklyn. After eight years of planning and development by the State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the Chisholm State Park opened on July 2nd, 2019.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning
- Sheppard, D. (1968, Nov 23). Plan Chisholm Tribute. New York Amsterdam News (1962-1993)
- Brown Miller, S. (1969, Apr 13). This Is Fighting Shirley Chisholm: Fighting Shirley Chisholm. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Hunter, C. (1970, May 22). Shirley Chisholm: Willing To Speak Out: Mrs. Shirley Chisholm: Willing To Speak Out 'Against Wrongs'. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Slack, S. (1970, Oct 10). A Salute To First Lady, Shirley Chisholm!: A Day In the Life Of Shirley Chisholm. New York Amsterdam News (1962-1993)
- Watson, D. (1971, Oct 22). Students Cheer Rep. Chisholm. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973)
- Shirley Chisholm. (1971, Dec 04). New Pittsburgh Courier (1966-1981)
- Shirley Chisholm Will Discuss Education at Columbia University. (1972, Feb 19). New York Amsterdam News (1962-1993)
- Shirley Chisholm, An Orator. (1973, Feb 24). New Journal and Guide (1916-2003)
- Shirley Chisholm, To Keynote Street Academies Conference: Chisholm To Speak. (1975, May 28). New York Amsterdam News (1962-1993)
- Shirley Chisholm: Catalyst For Change. (1986, Mar 20). Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005)
- Shirley Chisholm 1924. (1991, Feb 21). Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003)
- Simmonds, Y. (2005, Jan 06). Shirley Chisholm Dies. Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005)
- Chisholm, Shirley. The Good Fight. New York: Harper and Row, . E840.8.C48 A28
- Giegerich, S. (2019, Aug 19). Celebrating Shirley Chisholm. Teachers College, Columbia University.
- Shirley Chisholm Papers, 1963-2005, Rutgers University Libraries: Papers consisting of speeches, 1971-1989, on a wide variety of topics; Congressional files, 1965-1981, composed primarily of complimentary letters received and presidential campaign materials; general files, 1966-1986, consisting chiefly of biographical materials, including information on Chisholm's record in Congress; newspaper clippings, 1969-1990, in the form of editorials written by Chisholm, as well as coverage of her speeches, writings and retirement; constituent newsletters, 1969-1982, complemented by selected press releases; photographs (including photocopies and other reproductions), 1969-1990, many of which depict Chisholm with other political figures; publications, 1969-1992, with additional coverage of Chisholm's political career and her retirement; and campaign miscellany, 1969 and 1972, including buttons from her presidential campaign and political posters. Also included in the collection are papers, 1963-1985 (bulk 1980-1984), of Chisholm's aide Robert Frishman.
- Shirley Chisholm, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries
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