Chisholm, Shirley (Anita St. Hill) 1924-2005

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CHISHOLM, Shirley (Anita St. Hill) 1924-2005

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born November 30, 1924, in New York, NY; died January 1, 2005, in Ormond Beach, FL. Politician, educator, and author. Chisholm wanted to be remembered simply as a woman who had guts, though her place in history is, more precisely, that of the first black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. Born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, she came from a family of modest means. Her parents consequently sent her and her sisters to live with relatives in Barbados, and Chisholm did not return home until 1934. Her spunky personality and intelligence led her to Brooklyn College, where she completed a B.A. in 1946. She subsequently taught at the Mt. Calvary Child Care Center, a Harlem nursery school. Having completed her master's degree in elementary education at Columbia University the year before, she was hired in 1953 as director of the Friends Day Nursery in Brooklyn. She then directed the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center from 1954 to 1959. Chisholm's concern for education and child welfare led her to become an education consultant for the New York City Bureau of Child Welfare, where she soon gained recognition as an authority on early education. She became vocal about political issues that were affecting inner city families, winning election to the New York State Assembly in 1964. In 1968, running as a Democrat in a district that was eighty percent Democrat, she won her historic bid for Brooklyn's 12th Congressional District, and held that office until retiring from politics in 1982. While in Congress Chisholm demonstrated her strong will, refusing to let senior congressmen push her around or give her unimportant committee assignments. Her doggedness earned her appointments on the Education and Labor Committees, and in 1972 she even ran in the presidential primaries, though she lost to George McGovern after withdrawing with 152 delegates on her side. Throughout her years in Congress, she once noted, her main struggle in politics was to overcome chauvinism, not racism, in an institution dominated by what she described as a bunch of old men. After leaving Washington to spend more time with her family, she taught at Mt. Holyoke College until 1987 and served as ambassador to Jamaica during President Bill Clinton's first term in office. A few years after her husband's death, she moved to Florida to live a quiet life; her death was preceded by several strokes. Chisholm was the author of two books: Unbought and Unbossed (1970), which took its title from her 1968 campaign slogan, and The Good Fight (1973).



Chicago Tribune, January 3, 2005, section 1, pp. 1, 8.

Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2005, p. B10.

New York Times, January 4, 2005, p. A21.

Times (London, England), January 4, 2005, p. 48.