On Jan. 25, 1972, Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York stood on a platform in a Baptist church in her congressional district in Brooklyn. Behind a dozen microphones, she waved to the crowd and took a leap into history as she declared her bid for the Democratic nomination for presidency of the United States of America.
“I am not the candidate for Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I’m equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests,” Chisholm said in a clipped voice.
“I stand here now without endorsement from many big name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop. I do not intend to offer you the tired and glib cliches that have too long been an accepted part of our political life. I am the candidate of the people of America.”
The first Black woman elected to Congress ran against Sen. George McGovern (S.D.), who would go on to win the Democratic nomination but lose in a dramatic landslide to Republican Richard Nixon.
Chisholm’s presidential bid would be remembered for the power of her speeches, her fortitude, and her brutal honesty about racism, sexism politics and the state of the country. Chisholm’s defiant campaign has received renewed attention, especially after Joe Biden made history Tuesday by announcing that Sen. Kamala Harris will be his running mate, putting a woman of color on a presidential ticket for the first time.