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Former Congresswoman Chisholm Dies at 80

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  • Edda R. Pittman
    Cross post from afrigeneas......... It matters not whether the cat is black or white, so long as the mice get caught (Nigerian proverb) EDDA R. PITTMAN 5:59
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 8, 2005
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      Cross post from afrigeneas.........

      It matters not whether the cat is black or white,
      so long as the mice get caught (Nigerian proverb)

      EDDA R. PITTMAN 5:59 PM Saturday, January 08, 2005
      (Mail to:) EddaRPittman@... Plain text messages only

      http://missourifolkloresociety.truman.edu/pittman.html (see mother and me)
      http://www.hoobellatoo.org/annpittman.cfm (hear Mother sing)
      http://www.cutv.com/pittman.htm (see AND hear her)

      ----- Forwarded Message -----

      TO: [unknown], INTERNET:afrigeneas@...
      DATE: 1/5/105, 6:50 PM

      Re: Former Congresswoman Chisholm Dies at 80

      Former Congresswoman Chisholm Dies at 80 MIAMI Jan 3, 2005 =E2=80=94
      Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and an
      outspoken advocate for women and minorities during seven te rms in
      the House, died Saturday near Daytona Beach, friends said. She was
      80. "She was our Moses that opened the Red Sea for us," Robert E.
      Williams, president of the NAACP in Flagler County, told The
      Associated Press late Sun day. He did not have the details of her
      death. Chisholm, who was raised in a predominantly black New York
      City neighborhood and was elected to the U.S. House in 1968, was a
      riveting speaker who often criticized Congress as being too clubby
      and unresponsive. "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,"
      she told voters. She went to Congress the same year Richard Nixon was
      elected to the White House and served until two years into Ronald
      Reagan tenure as president. "Anyone that came in contact with her,
      they had a feeling of a careness, and they felt that she was very
      much a part of each individual as she represented her district,"
      William Howard, her longtime campaign treasurer, said Sunday .

      Newly elected, she was assigned to the House Agriculture Committee,
      which she felt was irrelevant to her urban constituency. In an
      unheard of move, she demanded reassignment and got switched to the
      Veterans Affairs Committee. Not long afterward she voted for Hale
      Boggs, who was white, over John Conyers, who was black, for majority
      leader. Boggs rewarded her with a place on the prized Education and
      Labor Committee and she was its third ranking member when she left.
      She ran for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1972.

      When rival candidate and ideological opposite George Wallace was
      shot, she visited him in the hospital an act that appalled her
      followers. "He said, `What are your people going to say?' I said: `I
      know what they're going to say. But I wouldn't want what happened to
      you to happen to anyone.' He cried and cried," she recalled. And when
      she needed support to extend the minimum wage to domestic workers two
      years later, it was Wallace who got her the votes from Southern
      members of Congress. Pragmatism and power were watchwords. "Women
      have learned to flex their political muscles. You got to flex that
      muscle to get what you want," she said during her presidential
      campaign. When Bella Abzug challenged Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the
      1976 Democratic Senate primary, Chisholm caused a stir by backing

      "Where was Abzug when I ran for president?" she asked, when
      questioned about her choice. In her book, "Unbought and Unbossed,"
      she recounted the campaign that brought her to Congress and wrote of
      her concerns about that body: "Our representative democracy is not
      working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters
      does not respond to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this
      is that it is ruled by a small group of old men."

      The Rev. Jesse Jackson called Chisholm a "woman of great courage."
      "She was an activist and she never stopped fighting," Jackson said
      from Ohio , where he is set to lead a rally on Monday in Columbus.
      "She refused to accept the ordinary, and she had high expectations
      for herself and all peop le around her." Chisholm's leadership traits
      were recognized by her parents early on, she recalled.

      Born Shirley St. Hill in New York City on Nov. 30, 1924, she was t he
      eldest of four daughters of a Guyanese father and a Barbadian mother.
      Her father, an unskilled laborer in a burlap bag factory, and her
      mother, a domestic, scrimped to educate their children. At age 3,
      Shirley was sent to live on her grandmother's farm in Barbados. Sh e
      attended British grammar school and picked up the clipped Caribbean
      accent that marked her speech. She moved back to New York when she
      was 11 and went on to graduate cum laude from Brooklyn College and
      earn a master's degree from Columbia University. She started her
      career as director of a day care center, and later served as an
      educational consultant with the city's Bureau of Child Welfare. She
      became active in local Democratic politics and ran successfully for
      the state Assembly in 1964.

      She was an Assemblywoman from 1964 to 1968 before besting James
      Farmer, the former national chairman of the Congress of Racial
      Equality, to gain the House seat. "I am the people's politician," she
      said at the time. "If the day should eve r come when the people can't
      save me, I'll know I'm finished." When she left 14 years later, she
      complained that many of her constituents misunderstood her, that she
      was a "pragmatic politician" whose influence was waning in
      conservative times. And she said she wanted more time for her family
      life. After leaving Congress, Chisholm was named to the Purington
      Chair at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., where she
      taught for four years. In later years she was a sought-after speaker
      on the lecture circuit. "She was a tremendous leader and a voice in
      politics when she was in office, as well as when she left office,"
      Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields told the AP.

      Chisholm was married twice. Her 1949 marriage to Conrad Chisholm
      ended in divorce in February, 1977. Later that year she married
      Arthur Hardwick, Jr. She had no children. Hardwick died in 1986.
      "Whether you agree with her politics or not, she had a moral compass
      and was an advocate for the underdog," said Shola Lynch, director of
      "Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed", a documentary on her 1972
      presidential campaign. Once discussing what her legacy might be, she
      commented, "I'd like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts.
      That's how I'd like to be remembered."

      Democrat congresswoman Shirley Chisholm of New York takes her oath of
      office , on in this Jan. 3, 1969 file photo in Washington, D.C., as
      the first black woman to serve in the House of Representatives.
      Administering the oath in this re-enactment of the swearing-in
      cremony is Speaker John McCormack. Chisholm , the first black woman
      elected to Congress and an outspoken advocate for women and
      minorities during seven terms in the House, died Saturday, Jan. 1 ,
      2005, a friend said. She was 80. (AP Photo/File)
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