A political leader for many years, and a co-founder of the National women’s Political Caucus, Shirley Chisholm is the one of the most famous African - American woman in politics. She was the first black woman to be elected to congress, and also was the first black women to run for president (1972). She was even asked by bill Clinton to serve as American – ambassador to Jamaica. But this isn’t her whole life, so in these further paragraphs I plan to tell you about her great and wonderful life.
In 1924 Shirley Chisholm was born by parents Charles St. Hill and ruby seale, who had immigrated to Brooklyn from Barbados in the early 1920’s. Shirley was the oldest out of 4 girls, her other 3 sisters being Odessa, Muriel, and Selma.
When Shirley was 3 her parents sent her to live with her grandmother (on her mothers side) in Barbados where there was more room to run and play. At her grandmothers Shirley lived with her 4 cousins. There was no running water, or electricity here so the children had to do many chores like getting fresh water, cleaning the house, tending to the garden and feeding animals at the farm. However the reward was to go to the beach and swim, play, and run in the clear waters of the Caribbean.
Then in 1934, when Shirley was 10, an event happened that would change her life forever. Her parents, the St. Hills decided to take Shirley back to Brooklyn. Brooklyn was very different from her grandmothers farm and Shirley found herself getting very confused and getting lost in the streets and neighborhoods.
The St. Hills were the first blacks in a neighborhood of whites, Jewish immigrants, and 1st generation Americans. Shirley and her father often had long talks about politics and social issues. Also the St. Hills friends, West Indian immigrants, would have long late night discussions about debates and social politics. They often talked about the problems they faced because of their color. She would take these discussions in to mind and vowed to make a difference.
Although Shirley and her sisters were among the few blacks at her school, and among the few of their religion, Shirley was determined to be heard. Shirley was branded as a trouble maker because she was always willing to do whatever she needed to be heard. As this was happening she joined many committees and clubs like the Bedford Political league (Shirley moved to the Bedford neighborhood in 1936). The purpose of the Bedford Political league was to get blacks elected to every level of government. Shirley was also in the national Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the League of Women Voters. Then Shirley decided that it wasn’t fare to judge people on the color of their skin, and that she wouldn’t spend her whole life fighting racism.
Shirley excelled in highschool and graduated from Girls High in 1942. She then accepted a scholarship and attended Brooklyn College. After receiving her BA at Brooklyn college Shirley attended Columbia where she received her masters Degree. Then in 1949 while still in Columbia University she fell in love and married a quiet man named Conrad Chisholm.
Although she was becoming more and more famous she still had 2 main obstacles to overcome, she was black, and was a women. These 2 obstacles limited the fields she could go into. She then chooses politics remembering the decisions her and her father had talked about when she was a child. So in 1960 Mrs. Chisholm formed the Unity Democratic Club, which tried to get black leaders elected to the New York Assembly. This club was very popular and well-known, and by 1962 the club had their first victory. Tom Jones, an African – American man was elected to the New York Assembly. In 1964 Shirley Chisholm decided that she was tired of doing all the work for other people and decided to run for assembly. Then in 1964 she was victorious and was elected to the New York Assembly. When she arrived at the capital she was only 1 of 6 black assembly members, and she was the only black woman. One of the most important bills an Assembly woman Chisholm got passed was a program called SEEK. This program helped young men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Shirley learned many things as an assembly women, and in 1968 she ran for the U. S. Congress. Shirley used strategies such as speaking Spanish in Spanish and Puerto Rican areas, and when her counterpart, James Farmer, said that government was a man’s job in a district where women voters outnumbered men voters. These strategies and plain old hardwork paid off when in November of 1968 Shirley Chisholm Beat James Farmer by a two and one half to one margin. While in Congress Chisholm was placed in the Agriculture Committee, and was assigned the sub -–committees forestry and rural development. She felt that these two sub – committees had nothing to do with the poor black, Hispanic and white people of the Bedford neighborhood. Shrilly was enraged, so she called the speaker of the house, John McCormick, and she explained her predicament. He agreed to see what he could do, but no more. Chisholm was not happy with his decision and decided to go to the floor and speak about her problem. She made a brief, but powerful speech, and was then assigned to the Veterans Affaires Committee. While in Congress Shirley choose two major themes, to be a leader for women and African – Americans across the country. Also, while in Congress Chisholm fought for jobs, education, enforcement for anti-discrimination laws, and other social issues, while opposing the Vietnam War and giving more money up for the war. She was in support of repealing anti-abortion laws, she wanted equal rights for women, more daycare centers and better working conditions for both men and women.
The 4 years Shirley Chisholm spent in congress was a good experience for her as she learned a lot about Congress and politics. She believed that she learned enough to run for president under a democratic nomination. But the experienced she lacked and the little money she had caused her defeat at the Democratic Convention to Goerge McGovern, who later lost to Richard Nixon. Like being the first black women to be in Congress, she was the first black women to run for president. With Shirley Chisholm now knowingthat she could probably never be president because she was a womenshe contiuned her career as a congresswomen until 1982, when she retired to return to an early childhood dream, teaching. She tought at Mt. Holyoke College, until she moved to Flordia.
Today Mrs. Chisholm keeps a low profile, but still remains active in politics and is now writing a book. She is still remembered for being the first black women in congress, and being the first black women to run for precedence. In my opinion, Shirley Chisholm was a great, very strong, smart, and has a lot of courage. Shirley Chisholm once said at a Spelman College speech “Success comes from doing to the best of your ability what you know in your heart are right things to do”. I agree 100% with this quote because I think it is wrong to do things you don’t believe in, and if you want something done you might as well do the best that you can. I also believe that Shirley Chisholm is a success and has done successful things for the nation that not many other people are cabable of doing.
Throughout history there have been several leaders who used their cunning and sly intelligence to trick the general population into following them and their beliefs. Eventually, these leaders had so much support, they could no longer be called leaders, but absolute and dictatorial rulers. However, during the period of Enlightenment and of the French Revolution, non-maleficent ideas, created by Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and other Enlightenment Philosophes, were spread throughout the European population.
They stated the opposition to absolute monarchies as well as a new main focus on people’s innate rights and freedoms. Many leaders after this period of Enlightenment preached its ideas, while others simply used them to gain power. Simon Bolivar might have preached opinions that mainly reflected the ideas of the French Revolution. However, his actions contradicted these opinions, and revealed that his true intentions were selfish and illiberal. In several documents and speeches, Bolivar stated that he was very fond of freedom, liberty and equality. Clearly, it would seem that he desired democracy. This can be seen in his «Jamaican Letter», where he states «More than anyone I desire to see America fashioned into the greatest nation in the world, greatest not so much by virtue of her area and wealth as by her freedom and glory.» However, he adds to this «love of freedom» in saying that it is «inconceivable» to set up such a government, simply because there is not enough political knowledge for a system such as that to run. Further, Bolivar says that he agrees with the ideas of Montesquieu, who played a very important role during the Enlightenment period, and states that he is against absolutism. In looking at the beliefs Bolivar spoke of, one could almost come to the conclusion that he directly lectured the ideas fought for in the French Revolution; opposition to absolute monarchies, natural rights and freedoms, ideas of Montesquieu, and ruling for the people’s best interest. Interestingly, however, Bolivar never actually put any of his «glorious ideas» into action. Instead of setting up a democracy, ideas of which he praised, he arranged a system in which his total control was made known. He declared himself president until he died, created a weak legislative body with almost no power, and limited the right to vote to the Creoles, who were American-born Spaniards. Not only did this contradict his great «Love of freedom» that he originally spoke of, but also his hate of monarchy, a system of government not too far off from the «paternal constitution» he himself created. Furthermore, this government system doesn’t reflect ideals fought for in the French Revolution, which he once agreed with. In a document written by Bolivar, he states that he fears Black and Indian «insurrections.»
Evidently, it can be seen that if Bolivar fears revolts of Black and Indian peoples, then these two groups are still being oppressed. Obviously, his original love of equality has faded if he is allowing the persecution of two very populous groups in Latin America, the Blacks and the Indians. And last, a passage from the diary of Louis Peru de la Croix suggests that Simon Bolivar was «not always tolerant.» If Bolivar was intolerant, he wouldn’t have supported free speech, which again goes against his previous support of Enlightenment thinkers and of the French Revolution. In analyzing whether or not Bolivar was in support of ideals of the Enlightenment period and the French Revolution, one must analyze the terms «Beliefs» and «Actions.» It is true that Simon Bolivar talked of many beliefs which might have reflected these two periods of time. However, could it be possible that he was just looking to gain more power so that he could climb the political ladder and end up with total control?
Once Bolivar did gain the power he needed, he seemed to reject all of his prior beliefs and take action resembling that of a dictator. It is true that actions speak louder than words, especially when the words gather power, then the actions abuse it. It can clearly be seen that although Bolivar preached several beliefs of the Enlightenment era, his true intentions of being in total control were represented by his cruel and unjust practices as president.