Chisholm: Celebrating Women of Color

Photo courtesy of The City University of New York (

Amelia Burnett, Staff Writer

Black History Month and Women’s History Month are excellent opportunities to reflect upon the unsung heroes of the histories of these groups. As a woman of color, Shirley Chisholm serves as a unique lens through which to view the impact and experiences of both the female and black community.

Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968, during an era of rampant racism. This is significant today because the more we cogitate about the state of our current Congress, the more we see it as being able to represent a melting pot of all different races, genders, cultures, and ethnicities. This diversity may have been nonexistent without her, as she pioneered a future for women and African Americans in the political process. The diversity she generated within the United State’s political system is indicative of her influence on it.

Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969. The Black Caucus still exists today and works to put forth a policy that ensures equal rights and opportunities for all African Americans. Her instrumental role in founding this Caucus has helped facilitate many developments for racial equality in U.S. history.  

Furthermore, she was the first Black woman of a major party to run for a presidential nomination. In 1792, Chisholm threw her hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination. This historical landmark had a large impact on history. By doing this, Chisholm broke down many barriers for women of color in the political system. 

Her influence opened the possibility for Kamala Harris, a woman, to be the current Vice President. Withal, Obama became the first black president of the U.S. in 2009, which may have occurred in part by Chisholm laying the foundation for African Americans in politics.

These accomplishments embody Chisholm’s character and life. She spent her life as an individual who was a trailblazer and pioneer for equality. This legacy is crucial in the present moment because much of the groundwork that she made in racial equality is now in jeopardy. As hope dims with new daily stories of police brutality, it is important to remember and celebrate her as a hero. 

Speaking to a black student this month, they reported seeing people who look like them in positions of power is uplifting and inspiring. Chisholm was the embodiment of this. Regardless of gender or race, people should look up to Shirley Chisholm as an inspirational hero to all of America.