Women from all walks of American society have led movements of various kinds since the formation of the Republic. The names of Deborah Samson and Molly McCauley are probably not familiar, but some fondly recall the achievements of Lydia Maria Child, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary McLeod Bethune, Susan B. Anthony, Ethel Hedgeman Lyle, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mary Church Terrell, Osceola McCarthy Adams, Ida B. Wells, Betty Friedan and scores of other women who paved the way for progress.
New York’s Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968. It was obvious that she was not stopping there, as she announced her candidacy for President in 1972. Chisholm received little support from her black male colleagues, leading her to say, “They think I am trying to take power from them. The black man must step forward, but that doesn’t mean the black woman must step back.” With her fiery passion and timely rhetoric during the primaries, Chisholm made the Democratic Party respect her run for the nomination even though many delegates viewed her supporters as meaningless and her effort as a sentimental exercise.
As history looks back on the 1960s and views the period through clearer lenses, Shirley Chisholm might have forged an independent attitude as it relates to serving the public. Not being bought and not being bossed—by any political party hierarchy—might just be a radical idea.
MARC CURTIS LITTLE BLOG/Please comment at www.marclittlewrites.com