Shirley Chisholm for President, ‘72

The candidate of the people of America

Anna Breslin
8 min readMar 28, 2019


Chisholm for President Campaign poster 1972

It was radical. A woman was running for president. A Black Woman. It was 1972. No one invited Shirley Chisholm to run. She didn’t ask permission of anyone in the Democratic party or the Congressional Black Caucus. She knew, “(i)f they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” That’s was exactly what she did.

If you were a little girl at the time, like I was, it was more awesome to see than the moon landings. She shifted the notion of what was possible for women. Congresswoman Chisholm changed my idea of what was possible for me and for the world.

I had just turned eight years old when Chisholm launched her run. I saw her on television and became enthralled with her. I told my mother I wanted to be Shirley Chisholm when I grew up. My mother was thrilled her daughter was a feminist. She gave me a Shirley Chisholm for President button.

not my actual button, Chisholm for President Campaign

When I think back on what she meant to me, I get choked up. I cry. Almost every time. For me, she was pure courage. A speaker of the truth. I heard her and I was moved.

In my kid-mind, she wasn’t a feminist the way other women were, I saw her as a doer— she wasn’t talking or marching, she was running. She went after what she wanted. I loved that. How could anyone not love that? “Fighting Shirley Chisholm,” as she was known, was the bravest living woman I knew of.

It was the ‘70’s. I lived in a liberal feminist household. When I look back, I have no idea how much I really understood at that time about feminism and the civil rights movement other than I thought they were good. I thought all people should be treated the same and have the same opportunities. The hate I saw and heard never made any sense to me and I heard a lot of hate in the ‘70’s.

If it had been another time, another decade, I doubt I would have been allowed to have an African-American hero. In fact, if my father hadn’t disappeared on us, I know what he would have done. He’d have called her a word that starts with “N”, made fun of the way she spoke, and said a woman…



Anna Breslin

GenX writer. Old poems at Hoping to catch the Medium habit again, but there’s so much life away from the screen.