Shirley Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York on 30 November 1924. She was an educator, specialising in early childhood education and, eventually, became an accomplished politician.

She became involved in local Democratic party politics in the 1950s. In 1964 she was elected to the New York State Assembly; this required her to overcome resistance because she was a woman. In 1968, she became the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, where she led expansion of food and nutrition programs for the poor. She represented New York's 12th congressional district (centred on Bedford–Stuyvesant) for seven terms, retiring in 1983. She then taught at Mount Holyoke College, while continuing her political organising.

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm became the first black candidate for a major-party nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's nomination. However, her campaign was underfunded, only spending $300,000 in total. She was ignored by much of the Democratic political establishment and received little support from her black male colleagues. She later said, "When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black.

Shirley Chisholm died on 1 January 2005 and, in 2015, was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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