Shirley Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York City. She is best known for becoming the first black congresswoman, representing New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. Shirley retired from office to become a teacher and then a public speaker.
She attended New York public schools and was able to complete well in the mainly white classrooms. Shirley won tuition scholarships to several distinguished colleges but was unable to afford room and board. At the urging of her parents she decided to live at home and attend Brooklyn College. While training to be a teacher, Shirley became active in several campus and community groups.
However, her life was filled with much more than being the first black woman to do important things. All her life, she worked to improve the lives of others. She believed in being a person to fight for a change. She spoke with power, her greatest tool was her mouth. She was not afraid to say the things others would not say before congress and the public.
Shirley spoke strongly for the poor and for women. She worked for civil rights for African- Americans. She also was a member of the National Organization For Women. She was an activist for people of color, including Native Americans and Spanish- speaking immigrants. She often spoke about cultural and social issues.
Chisholm was a woman who was known for her moral character and her relentless ability to stand up for her community and what she believed in. A child to immigrant parents, she learned from an early age the importance of an education and the value of hard work. She applied those both in her political career and her accomplishments while serving as a congresswoman.
Shirley Chisholm died on January 1, 2015, at the age of 80, in Ormond Beach, Florida. Nearly 11 years later, in November 2015, she was posthumously awarded the distinguished Presidential Medal of Freedom. She said, " I want history to remember me... not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of The United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America."