Last month, Congressman Rangel introduced legislation to posthumously award the Congressional Medal Act to Shirley Chisholm, in recognition of Chisholm’s “activism, independence, and groundbreaking achievements in politics, her election as the first African-American woman in Congress, and her campaign to be the first African-American to gain the nomination of a major political party for President of the United States.”
Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and served with Rangel as part of New York’s congressional delegation and as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Rangel stated, “Shirley’s election to Congress and her candidacy for the Presidency raised the profile and aspirations of all Blacks and women in the field of politics.”
Shirley Chisholm represented Brooklyn from 1969-1983 in the House of Representatives. Born in New York City in 1924, Chisholm became the first black congresswoman and ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1972. Throughout her political career Chisholm fought for education opportunities and social justice, and was vocal in her support of civil rights and women’s rights. She was also a co-founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW). After she left congress she continued to work with communities through teaching and lecturing. She passed away at age 80 on January 1, 2005.
Rangel recalled, “Shirley used to say: ‘You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas,'” Rangel said, “Surely enough, Shirley became a historic figure in American political history and a champion for social justice. Today, her legacy continues to inspire all of us to work for progress and to believe in the power of change.”