Shirley Chisholm

Declaring presidential bid - Jan. 25, 1972

Shirley Chisholm
January 25, 1972
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I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States of America.

I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I'm equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political body or backpacks or special interests.

I stand here now, without endorsement from many big-name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop. I do not intend to offer to you the tired and bled clichés which for too long have been accepted part of our political life.

I am the candidate of the people of America.

Fellow Americans, we have looked in vain to the Nixon Administration for the courage, the spirit, the character and the words to lift us, to bring out the best in us, to rekindle in each of us our faith in the American dream. Yet all that we have received in return is just another smooth exercise in political manipulation, deceit and deception, callousness and indifference to our individual problems, and the disgusting playing of divisive politics. Pinning the young against the old. Labor against management. North against South. Black against white.

The abiding concern of this Administration has been one of political expediency rather than the needs of man's nature. The President has broken his promises to us and has therefore lost his claim to our trust and confidence in him.

I cannot believe that this Administration would have ever been elected four years ago if we had known then what we know today.

But we are entering a new era in which we must as Americans demand stature and size in our national leadership. Leadership which is fresh, leadership which is open, and leadership which is receptive to the problems of all Americans.

I have faith in the American people. I believe that we are smart enough to correct our mistakes. I believe we are intelligent enough to recognize the talent, energy and dedication which all Americans, including women and minorities, have to offer.

I know from my travels to the cities and small towns of America that we have a vast potential which can and must be put to constructive use in getting this great nation together. I know that millions of Americans from all walks of life agree with me, that leadership does not mean putting the ear to the ground, to follow public opinion, but to have the vision of what is necessary and the courage to make it possible.

Americans all over are demanding a new sensibility, a new philosophy of government from Washington. Instead of sending spies to snoop on participants at Earth Day, I would welcome the efforts of concerned citizens of all ages to stop the abuse of our environment.

Instead of watching a football game on television while young people beg for the attention of their president concerning our actions abroad, I would encourage them to speak out, organize for peaceful change, and vote in November. Instead of blocking efforts to control the huge amounts of money given [to] political candidates by the rich and the powerful, I would provide certain limits on such amounts and encourage all the people of this nation to contribute small sums to the candidates of their choice.

Instead of calculating the political cost of this or that policy, and a weigh in favor of this or that group, depending on whether that group voted for me in 1968, I would remind all Americans at this hour of the words of Abraham Lincoln, "A house divided cannot stand."

We Americans are all fellow countrymen. One day confronting the judgment of history in our country. We are all God's children, and a bit of each of us is as precious as the will of the most powerful general or corporate millionaire.

Those of you who were locked outside of the convention hall in 1968, those of you who can now vote for the first time, those of you who agree with me that the institutions of this country belong to all of the people who inhabit it. Those of you who have been neglected, left out, ignored, forgotten or shunned aside for whatever reason. Give me your help at this hour. Join me in an effort to reshape our society and regain control of our destiny, as we go down the Chisholm Trail of 1972.

Chisholm, S. A. [NYC Department of Records and Information Services]. (2015, April 13). Shirley Chisholm: Declares Presidential Bid, January 25, 1972 []. Retrieved on January 27, 2021 from