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This Day in Black History: Nov. 5, 1968

Shirley Chisholm becomes the first Black woman elected to Congress on Nov. 5, 1968.

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was a Brooklyn, New York-born politician and educator whose passion for social justice led her to pursue a career in politics. After four years on the New York state legislature, Chisholm ran as the Democratic candidate for New York's 12th District congressional seat and won.

 

With her election into the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 5, 1968, representing New York for seven terms, she made history as the first Black congresswoman. Originally assigned to the House Forestry Committee, Chisholm switched to the Veterans' Affairs Committee and later the Education and Labor Committee. She was known for opposing the military draft and championing for equality in minority education and employment opportunities. During her time in Congress, she hired only women for her office, half of whom were Black. In 1971, Chisholm became one of the founding members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

 

On Jan. 25, 1972, Chisholm became the first major-party Black candidate for president of the United States and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. She received 152 first-ballot votes at the party's national convention that year, but lost against George McGovern during the primaries.

 

After she left Congress in 1983, Chisholm taught and lectured at Mount Holyoke College, a women's liberal arts school in Massachusetts. She died in 2005 at the age of 80

 

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 (Photo: Pictorial Parade / Getty Images)

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