Shirley Chisholm

Lived:November 30, 1924—January 1, 2005 (aged 80)
Career:U.S. House of Representatives, 1969-1982
New York State Assembly, 1964-1968
Education:B.A., Brooklyn College
M.A., Columbia University

Shirley Chisholm served as a New York U.S. Representative from 1969 to 1982. She was the first African-American woman to serve in the United States Congress and the first to seek a major party's nomination for president.

Chisholm was born November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York. From age three to ten, Chisholm lived with her grandmother in Barbados, then returned to New York. Chisholm attended Brooklyn College, graduating in 1946 with a bachelor's degree. In 1952, she earned a master's degree in elementary education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Prior to entering politics, Chisholm worked as a nursery school teacher and director of schools for early childhood education.

In 1964, Chisholm was elected to the New York State Assembly, serving until 1968. In 1968, she was elected as a United States representative. While serving, Chisholm protested the money spent on the Vietnam War (1955 to 1975) while social programs suffered. While in Congress, Chisholm served on the Agriculture Committee, Veterans' Affairs Committee, Rules and Education Committee, and Labor Committee.

In 1972, Chisholm ran for the United States presidency, but lost the Democratic nomination. She announced her retirement from Congress in 1982.

After leaving Congress, Chisholm taught at Mount Holyoke College and was a supporter of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. She co-founded the National Political Congress of Black Women in 1984. In 1993, she turned down President Bill Clinton's offer of an ambassadorship to Jamaica. Chisholm died on January 1, 2005.

For information on Chisholm's policy subject areas, committee appointments and sponsored/co-sponsored legislation during her time in the U.S. House of Representatives, please visit her profile on