Celebrating Black History Month


Continuing to honor Black History Month, we focus today on a story by Matthew Wills. He writes about Shirley Chisholm and the significance of her run for President in 1972.

Chisholm was a politician, educator and author.

In 1968 she was the first black female elected as U.S. Representative of New York's 12th Congressional District, which she represented for seven terms. In 1972, she did it again by being the first major-party black candidate to run for President of the United States. (click here to read Percy Sutton's nomination speech at the 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami)

According to Wills, she set "the precedent for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 

He continues: "She was able to privilege one identity over others depending on the political context, and seemed very aware that all these categories were historical constructs." Shirley was the child of Barbadian immigrants and her identity is considered to be complex; "she was female, black, American, Barbadian American, working class, and the child of immigrants."

In her presidential announcement she described herself as representative of the people by saying, "I am not the candidate of black America, althought I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman and equally proud of that. I am the candiate of the people and my presence before you symbolizes a new era in American political history."

Click here to read more about this pioneer in American politics.

Look for more Black History Month stories from JSTOR Daily in the days ahead