This Congresswoman Inspired Generations of Women to Run for Office

Who: Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress; first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. president; educator; November 30, 1924–January 1, 2005

Why She Dazzles: Shirley began her career as a nursery school teacher and an education consultant before she ran for office. Her outspoken personality earned her the nickname “Fighting Shirley,” which she even called herself when she campaigned for office and shouted from a loudspeaker, “This is Fighting Shirley Chisholm!” The strong-willed congresswoman championed programs for early education and the poor, and she passionately advocated for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. And NBD, but Shirley was the first Black woman to run for president of the United States in 1972, and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. Mic drop.

Why You Need to Know Her Today: Shirley inspired a generation of women to run for office after her congressional win in 1968, including women who ran for office and won in 2018. Aware of gender and racial inequality in politics, she said she was discriminated against more for being a woman than for being Black. "At present," she said, "our country needs women's idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else."

What She Would Say—Because She Said It Then: “I want history to remember me not just as the first Black woman to be elected to Congress, 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 dared to be herself."

What the Ladies Rocked Then: Big, bold, gold jewelry with birthstones. And the beloved Cartier Love bracelet, designed by Aldo Cipullo, launched in 1969. It’s still one of the most sought-after jewelry pieces today.

How You Can Rock It Now: Shirley’s birthstones are topaz and citrine (November), which align with the “what’s your sign” trend of the time. November is extra special because Election Day happens during that month, and she was the first Black woman to run for president.

Where She Would Instagram: Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York. Shirley was born and raised in Brooklyn and ran for the House of Representatives when redistricting efforts created a new congressional district in the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. She advocated for its residents for decades, and New York City will honor the legendary politician with a new monument to be erected in Prospect Park in 2020.

Shop the Sparkle: Election Day

Please Share! How does Shirley Chisholm inspire you? #anewlady

Shirley Chisholm: Beautiful. Bold. Brilliant.