The struggle to increase participation by groups historically excluded from politics such as African Americans, women, and immigrants, is one of the continuing stories in the, A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond exhibition. Shirley Chisholm personifies this story. Chisholm (1924-2005) was the first African American woman elected to Congress where she served for seven terms beginning in 1969. The daughter of immigrants from Barbados and Guyana, Chisolm had a significant impact on anti-poverty policy and educational reform. In 1971, she was a founding member of both the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus.

A poster for presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm from 1972.
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gifted with pride from Ellen Brooks.

Chisholm was also the first African American woman to campaign for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972 with the slogan “Unbought and Unbossed.” Beset by both racist and sexist opposition, she failed to win her party’s nomination, losing to anti-Vietnam War candidate Senator George McGovern. Always an advocate for poor, inner-city residents, Chisolm said, “I am and always will be a catalyst for change” and would go on to serve another 11 years in Congress.

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