Shirley Anita St. Hill was born on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York, to immigrant parents from the Caribbean region. She had three younger sisters, two born within three years after Shirley, one later. Their father, Charles Christopher St. Hill, was born in British Guiana, lived in Barbados for a while, and then arrived in the United States via Antilla, Cuba, on April 10, 1923, aboard the S.S. Munamar in New York City. Their mother, Ruby Seale, was born in Christ Church, Barbados, and arrived in New York City aboard the S.S. Pocone on March 8, 1921. Her father worked in a factory that made burlap bags and her mother was a seamstress and domestic worker.
Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York. She broke ground again four years later in 1972 when she was the first major party African-American candidate and the first female candidate for president of the United States.
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (November 30, 1924 – January 1, 2005) was an American politician, educator, and author. In 1968, she became the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress, and represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983. In 1972, she became the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States, and the first woman ever to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.
Chisholm’s legacy came into renewed prominence during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton staged their historic ‘firsts’ battle – where the victor would either be the first major party African-American nominee, or the first woman nominee – with observers crediting Chisholm’s 1972 campaign as having paved the way for both of them.
In 2015, Chisholm was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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