Shirley Chisholm, American Patriot, 1924-2005
I remember seeing Shirley on TV as a young kid, and remember how odd it seemed to see someone who looked something like my mother on the TV screen. I remember the way she carefully and forcefully articulated any point she made. In some ways I found her mesmerizing to listen to, though at the time, everything she was talking about sailed right over my head, but I knew that it was important. I also remember seeing her during a congressional hearing seated in the midst of a group composed mostly of, Scowling, Fat, White, Men.
These are the extent of my memories, (which is actually pretty embarressing considering that I was in High School by the time she served her last term) but it is possible that watching her may have contributed to my belief that at some point down the road that I, might one day become the President of the United States (at least until the realization hit that folks like me usually end up in the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, if we get to close to power).
Clarence page offers the following in remembrance in a Newsday column.
And she prided herself on making herself a pain in the neck - even to her allies, if they tried to make her sit on the sidelines and wait her turn like a nice little lady, as many tried to do. People called her crazy, but only at first. She had a habit of getting what she wanted or, at least, making the path easier for those who would come later. As Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), who knew her well, recalled, "For her to succeed, she had to be a little strange - and certainly extraordinary." Indeed, Harlem's black political club bosses like Adam Clayton Powell, Basil Patterson, Percy Sutton and Rangel didn't know what to make of this former day-care center director and educational consultant who got herself elected to the New York State Assembly from Brooklyn in 1964, without much help from Brooklyn's tough political machine.She also ran for president in 1972 collecting 152 delegates and later had this to say about her run for the highest office in the land, "The next time a woman runs, or a black, a Jew or anyone from a group that the country is 'not ready' to elect to its highest office, I believe he or she will be taken seriously from the start. The door is not open yet, but it is ajar."
Let's hope it stays that way. Shirley, if there is a heaven, I know that you are bending Gods ear and let us hope that he listening.