Interview with Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm2020-11-08T19:48:02+00:00

THE VFA PIONEER HISTORIES PROJECT

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm

The U.S. Postal Service’s Black Heritage Limited Edition Stamp Series, 2014

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress in the late 60s. She also was the first woman and the first African-American to mount a serious candidacy for the presidency of the United States of America.

Terry O’Neill

Shirley Chisholm is the woman who ran for president, whose outreach both in communities of color and to women was remarkable.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

She made real progress in this country, not because she wanted to be a politician, because she wanted to make change.

Ambassador Andrew Young

Certainly, one of the heroes of big cities in the north, pioneers in education and health care and urban redevelopment was Shirley Chisholm. Well, Shirley Chisholm was the person you love almost immediately. She always smiled; she was a bundle of energy.  She’d been a teacher. So she related to children and adults very well and equally well. She evolved into politics through the state legislature and ended up in the Congress of the United States.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

One thing about Shirley Chisholm is you did not need to go along to get along, that you had a unique perspective as a black woman in Congress. And that unique perspective would make our country better.

If anybody says that they are leader, they must have the courage and the guts to take a stand and not equivocate and not try to consistently and persistently. If not, you have no right to leadership.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

She always encouraged us to not sit back and take what people give us. Never accept the status quo. I think young people can be encouraged by her story.

You know that I have never been exactly a favorite of the party. And, you know, I do what my conscience tells me to do.

Ambassador Andrew Young

During that period more bills related to child care and education and human rights were passed more than any other period in history. And she was quite often the point person on the details and how they would impact communities and parents and the children themselves. Shirley Chisholm was the expert on that.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

Now, she said herself that, you know, of the two handicaps that she called at that time, she had –  being female and being black – she received more problems being female. And so she really wanted to step out and pave the way for women.

Terry O’Neill

The women’s movement really grew out of the civil rights movement. It was highly informed in terms of its strategy. Its vision for the United States was very much informed by the work that many of the NOW founders had done in the civil rights movement. I think that because of Shirley Chisholm, more and more women began to imagine themselves as leaders in their communities, governors of their state, president of the United States. And I think just as importantly, more and more men began to imagine that they could support a woman as the leader in their political community. 

I felt that the time had come when a black person or a female person could and should be president of these United States of America.  Not only white, male and I decided, somebody had to get it started.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Shirley Chisholm paved the way for Jesse Jackson to run for president twice. And of course, had Jesse not run, had Shirley not run, I’m convinced we would not have President Barack Obama in the White House. And so I believe that Shirley Chisholm really started that with her life and her legacy and she would not give up. And I think she’s very proud of the work that she has done.

Ambassador Andrew Young

When the U.S. Postal Service says that you’re a distinguished citizen, it means something.

Terry O’Neill

Every schoolchild ought to know who Shirley Chisholm was really.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

I think that the stamp is really going to generate not only remembering her legacy, but also promoting what she stood for.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

I hope that it inspires them to be the kind of person Shirley Chisholm would want us all to be.

Ambassador Andrew Young

Now that we’ve got the forever stamps. I hope that all of these will be constant reminders of how this nation was built and the people who built it.

I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.

Terry O’Neill

Thank you, Shirley Chisholm.

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge

Thank you, Shirley. But for you, there would be no me.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Thank you, Shirley Chisholm. I love you and I miss you.

Ambassador Andrew Young

Thank you. My sister, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. You were a blessing and you continue to be a blessing to all of us.