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The first Black woman ever elected to the United States Congress, Shirley Chisholm served her native district of Brooklyn, N.Y., in the House of Representatives from 1969 until 1982.  She ran unsuccessfully in 1972 for the Democratic nomination for president.  Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn on Nov. 30, 1924, but spent much of her childhood on her grandmother's farm in Barbados.  She returned to Brooklyn when she was 11.  After graduating from a girls' high school there, she majored in sociology at Brooklyn College and earned a masters' degree in elementary education at Columbia University. 

She was married to Conrad Chisholm from 1949 to 1979 and then to Arthur Hardwick Jr. Director of Brooklyn's Friends Day Nursery from 1953 to 1959, Chisholm became a recognized authority on early education and child welfare.  From 1959 to 1964 she was an educational consultant in the day-care division of New York City's bureau of child welfare.  Also involved in community and civic activities, she was urged in 1964 to run for New York State Assembly.  The first black woman from Brooklyn to serve in the assembly, she won reelection in 1965 and 1966, then ran for Congress in 1968.  The Chisholm campaign slogan was "Unbought and Unbossed." which became the title of a book she published in 1970.  She soon became recognized as an outspoken champion of liberal causes associated with her Black and Hispanic constituency.  She published a second book in 1973, The Good Fight, After serving seven terms, Chisholm retired from Congress in 1982, becoming a professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.


Revised: July 18, 2013.