Shirley Anita St. Hill-Chisholm (November 30, 1924-January 1, 2005): Educator, Author, Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Activist, and America’s First Black Congresswoman

Shirley As A Young Woman

This is Shirley Anita St. Hill-Chisholm. She was born Shirley St. Hill on November 30, 1924 in a predominately black neighborhood in  Brooklyn, New York. She was the daughter of West Indian immigrants Charles St. Hill (a factory worker and Marcus Garvey follower) and Ruby Seale-St. Hill (domestic worker and seamstress) and the eldest of her four siblings. Mrs. St. Hill-Chisholm lived 7 years of her childhood in Barbados with her grandmother. At age 14, she met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and First Lady Roosevelt offered her some advice that young Shirley took with her throughout the rest of her life: “Don’t Let Nobody Stand In Your Way.”She graduated cum laude from Brooklyn College in 1946, began teaching, and earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University. Mrs. St. Hill-Chisholm served as director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center (1953 to 1959) and served as child educational consultant for the New York City Bureau of Child Welfare (1959-1964). Mrs. St.Hill-Chisholm began working in grassroots community organizing and joined the Democratic Party. In 1960, she helped establish the Unity Democratic Club. Her community base helped her to win the New York State Assembly in 1964.


Mrs. St. Hill-Chisholm became the first African-American congresswoman in 1968, beginning her first seven terms in the House of Representatives. She was initially assigned to the House Forestry Committee and shocked many by demanding reassignment. She was then placed on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and was promoted to the Education and Labor Committee. Congresswoman Chisholm became one of the founding members of the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) in 1969. Congresswoman Chisholm made history again by becoming the first African-American to make a democratic bid for the U.S, presidency in 1972. Congresswoman Chisholm was a major proponent for education and employment opportunities for minorities and she opposed the U.S. military draft. She also opposed the Vietnam War and was an activist for women’s rights. In 1971, Congresswoman Chisholm helped found the National Women’s Political Caucus. She left congress in 1983 and began teaching at Mount Holyoke College she and was  very popular on the lecture circuit. In 1984 she helped to establish the NPCBW (National Political Congress of Black Women) and briefly served as U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica during the Clinton Administration.


She was married to Conrad Chisholm, an investigator from 1949 to 1977. She then married Arthur Hardwick Jr., a businessman in 1986. She authored two books Unbought and Unbossed (1970) and The Good Fight (1973). She passed away on January 1, 2005 after a series of strokes. In 2004 she said of herself:

“I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”


I Salute this AMAZING HER-story making sista!


“Shirley Chisholm.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2015.

“Shirley Chisholm”. Women’s History. Women’s, 2015. Web. 24. Mar. 2015.


4 thoughts on “Shirley Anita St. Hill-Chisholm (November 30, 1924-January 1, 2005): Educator, Author, Civil Rights and Women’s Rights Activist, and America’s First Black Congresswoman

  1. Just like they don’t know a lot of other famous Black People they should know and nobody’s teaching them. It’s sooo sad!


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