Capitol Honor for Shirley Chisholm
“Shirley Chisholm deserves a permanent place among defining figures in the Capitol”; so said Rep. Yvette Clarke. We couldn’t agree with her more. Chisholm is more than deserving of this place of honor because of her historic accomplishment and her impact on democracy in the United States, bringing diversity to leadership both in Congress and other major movements.
We are delighted that Rep. Clarke is joined by Senator Kamala Harris in seeking this place of honor for Chisholm and in introducing the appropriate legislation. We are very encouraged by the support the legislation is already garnering in Congress. The Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Chuck Schumer is on board along with his colleagues Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Tom Kane. We expect that the entire Black Congressional Caucus will be on board, because Shirley Chisholm was one of the founders.
Politics aside, even the Republicans should be supporting this legislation because of Chisholm’s strong track record of accomplishments in the body.
The first African American women to be elected to Congress in the United States; this took place in 1968, and she served seven terms in Congress. She waged a battle for educational opportunities, for health care, for veterans, and minimum wages. She did not go to Congress to go along, she shocked the institution by demanding reassignment from the House Forestry Committee. She was placed on the Veterans Affairs Committee and graduated to the Education and Labor Committees. As Chisholm said, “You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” She certainly never stood on the sidelines.
Shirley Chisholm went on to make history again, becoming the first African American to make a democratic nomination in 1972. bid for the US presidency with a major party when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. Chisholm declared in her bid- “I am not a candidate of black America, although I am black and proud, I am not a candidate for the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, I am equally proud of that. I am a candidate of the people, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history. She was so right. Professor Ellen Fitzpatrick in her book on the quest for the American Presidency remarked that Shirley Chisholm transferred the Democratic Party to include a more diverse coalition of members.
This presidential run of Chisholm and her ability to stand up against the white male establishment of the politics, paved the way for the Jesse Jackson run for the presidency twice, and for the eventual election of the first black President, Barack Obama.
This is no small feat and of major historical significance. Shirley Chisholm deserves the Capitol Honor.
On the Women’s front, Shirley Chisholm was one of the founders of the National Organization of Women (NOW). She was very clear on her position on women’s rights; she also co-f0unded the National Congress of Black Women. Faye Williams, the president of that organization said she (Chisholm) had no qualms about saying that her greatest challenge was dealing with people on the basis that she was a woman rather than as a black person”. Every woman black or white, should be on the band wagon for Shirley Chisholm to be honored on the Capitol.
Shirley Chisholm was a champion for the marginalized; she was dedicated to the under-represented communities. She ran as a progressive long before it was popular. She pushed for women in elective office. Tired of men only running for office, she ran for office and became the second back woman in the New York State Legislature. In her now famous words, Chisholm said- “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”; she was not joking.
Chisholm, born in Brooklyn to parents from the Caribbean, spent part of her childhood in Barbados. She graduated from Brooklyn College and went on to start her career as a teacher. She went on to get her Masters Degree in Education from Columbia University. Chisholm was clear on her mission; she wanted to make a difference and was bold about it. She declared, “I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts” - that she had.
In her now famous biography, Chisholm described herself as “Unbought and Unbossed”. Her only obligation was to do what is right, not to the political elite and donors. She was tough, independent and very principled. These are qualities that we must lift up, these are qualities that we must pass on to the younger generation, these are qualities that we should be demanding of our leaders. These are qualities, sadly missing, in most of today’s political leadership, but these are the qualities that will save democracy and this country. Shirley Chisholm’s place in history is clear, her contribution is outstanding and the honor that is winding its way through Congress must be supported.
We are urging all our readers, viewers and social media partners to take on this issue, show our strength, get behind this effort, do for Shirley Chisholm what she did for us. She stood and represent. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee summed it up – “Shirley Chisholm was bold in her fight for women’s rights but also the rights of all people.”
Let us be bold for Shirley Chisholm.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was a program designed to bring humane, fair and orderly process to young people who for no fault of theirs now reside in the US, undocumented. The US is the only country these young people know and have adopted the country as home. It was a sensible and modest way of providing hope and a future for nearly one million dreamers. DACA was causing no harm to this country or its citizens; on the contrary it was providing a pool of young workers in areas that the country could use.
Along comes President Trump, without any alternative, any solution, made one of the most cruel and reckless decisions to end DACA, destroying young lives, tear families apart. shatter communities and drive a million people in the shadow of illegality. These young people have no future in any other country; it is impossible to deport a million plus people; it is driving young people to do desperate things to survive, how cruel can you be.
With Dreamers losing their protection, they will be losing their jobs, chance for education, and most sad, a chance to contribute to this country.
We now see people of conscience, religious leaders, immigration activists, young people, and even law makers coming together to march, demonstrate and protest against this cruel and inhuman decision by President Trump. Large companies, small businesses are all coming together to support fairness for DACA.
The Republican leadership in both the Senate and the House have failed to lead on this matter, all in deference to the “very stable” president and his fascination in building a “wall”. Although Trump said he would sign a bi-partisan solution, he went back on his words.
Without any action from the President and from Congress, the only recourse people of goodwill and some sense of decency have is to demonstrate. We are a community of immigrants and we know the pain of dislocation and despair. We must join in the protest and demonstration to demand action and fairness for these young people. We are urging our communities to join in the fight for what is right, join the demonstration, join the protest and when the time comes vote to remove those who are standing in the way of progress. After all, it is the American way.
The Dreamers are going through hell as a result of this policy, their lives are in turmoil, their future is being used as a political football; now is not the time to stand still, now is the time for action.