happy birthday, shirley chisholm!

November 30, 2019
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Shirley Chisholm would have been 95 years young today. So we wanted to salute the first Black woman to hold a set in Congress, the first Black woman to run for President in the United States, and, soon, the first Black woman to receive a permanent statue in New York City, the best we know how: with her own words. Eternally grateful.

“We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves.”

“The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.”

“Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread, and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal.”

“The most tragic error into which older people can fall is one that is common among educators and politicians. It is to use youth as scapegoats for the sins of their elders.”

“Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.”

“That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, Black, and a woman proves, I would think, that our society is not yet either just or free.”

“My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn’t always discuss for reasons of political expediency.”

“My present attitude toward politics as it is practiced in the United States: it is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gilded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own, their votes.”

“From the beginning I felt that there were only two ways to create change for Black people in this country — either politically or by open armed revolution. Malcolm defined it succinctly — the ballot or the bullet. Since I believe that human life is uniquely valuable and important, for me the choice had to be the creative use of the ballot. I still believe I was right. I hope America never succeeds in changing my mind. ”

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

“I want history to remember me…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 who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.”

“In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism.”

“I am and always will be a catalyst for change.”