77 Shirley Chisholm Quotes From The American Politician

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, born November 30, 1924, was the first African American woman in Congress (1968) and sought the U.S. presidency in 1972.

A strong advocate for women and minorities, she served seven terms in the House of Representatives.

Born in New York to immigrant parents, Chisholm faced racial and gender barriers but became an influential political figure, promoting equality, poverty alleviation and anti-war policies.

Shirley Chisholm

Despite facing discrimination during her presidential campaign, she garnered significant support.

After retiring in 1983, she continued to educate and advocate until declining health led her to withdraw from public life.

Below are some of the powerful quotes by Shirley Chisholm.

Best Shirley Chisholm Quotes


Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Women must become revolutionary. This cannot be evolution but revolution. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal. ~ Shirley Chisholm., Shirley Chisholm quotes on racism

We Americans have a chance to become someday a nation in which all racial stocks and classes can exist in their own selfhoods, but meet on a basis of respect and equality and live together, socially, economically, and politically. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

… all Americans are the prisoners of racial prejudice. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings. But that is no reason to allow prejudice to continue to be enshrined in our laws – to perpetuate injustice through inaction. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The minorities have been confined to the city by a moat of bigotry. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Top Shirley Chisholm Quotes

I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That’s how I’d like to be remembered. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

this view. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I’ve always met more discrimination being a woman than being Black…men are men. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Our representative democracy is not working because the Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this is that it is ruled by a small group of old men. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I have never cared too much what people say. What I am interested in is what they do. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers – a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left undone. Today, here, we should start to do so. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

We have never seen health as a right. It has been conceived as a privilege, available only to those who can afford it. This is the real reason the American health care system is in such a scandalous state. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Women know, and so do many men, that two or three children who are wanted, prepared for, reared amid love and stability, and educated to the limit of their ability will mean more for the future of the black and brown races from which they come than any number of neglected, hungry, ill-housed and ill-clothed youngsters. Pride in one’s race, as will simple humanity, supports

My God, what do we want? What does any human being want? ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Powerful Shirley Chisholm Quotes

Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Most Americans have never seen the ignorance, degradation, hunger, sickness, and futility in which many other Americans live…They won’t become involved in economic or political change until something brings the seriousness of the situation home to them. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Some members of Congress are among the best actors in the world. ~ Shirley Chisholm.


I am and always will be a catalyst for change. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

As things are now, no one can tell to whom members of Congress are responsible, except that it does not often appear to be to the people. Everyone else is represented in Washington by a rich and powerful lobby, it seems. But there is no lobby for the people. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Don’t list to those who say YOU CAN’T. Listen to the voice inside yourself that says, I CAN. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers – a great pity, on both counts. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Which is more like genocide, I have asked some of my black brothers – this, the way things are, or the conditions I am fighting for in which the full range of family planning services is available to women of all classes and colors, starting with effective contraception and extending to safe, legal terminations of undesired pregnancies at a price they can afford? ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin. When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Motivational Shirley Chisholm Quotes

As a black person I am no stranger to prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far more often discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter. Anyone who takes that role must pay a price. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Of my two `handicaps,’ being female put more obstacles in my path than being black. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I had met far more discrimination because I am a woman than because I am black. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

We have been so patient and loyal … and what has it gotten us? We want our full share now. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

To label family planning and legal abortion programs genocide is male rhetoric, for male ears. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Famous Shirley Chisholm Quotes

Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Political organizations are formed to keep the powerful in power. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Be as bold as the first man or [woman] to eat an oyster. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The liberals in the House strongly resemble liberals I have known through the last two decades in the civil rights conflict. When it comes time to show on which side they will be counted, they excuse themselves. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I was well on the way to forming my present attitude toward politics as it is practiced in the United States; it is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gelded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own: their votes. And who benefits the most? The lawyers. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The difference between de jure and de facto segregation is the difference between open, forthright bigotry and the shamefaced kind that works through unwritten agreements between real estate dealers, school officials, and local politicians. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Inspiring Shirley Chisholm Quotes

When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst of change. I don’t want to be remembered as the first black woman who went to Congress. And I don’t even want to be remembered as the first woman who happened to be black to make a bid for the Presidency I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the twentieth century. That’s what I want. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Racism keeps people who are being managed from finding out the truth through contact with each other. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

America has the laws and the material resources it takes to insure justice for all its people. What it lacks is the heart, the humanity. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’ ~ Shirley Chisholm.

There is a good deal of evidence that the United States is moving to the right, and that the main force behind the movement is a resurgence, in a new form, of racial prejudice. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

One distressing thing is the way men react to women who assert their equality: their ultimate weapon is to call them unfeminine. They think she is anti-male; they even whisper that she’s probably a lesbian. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I love America not for what she is, but for what she can become. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

It is not heroin or cocaine that makes one an addict, it is the need to escape from a harsh reality. There are more television addicts, more baseball and football addicts, more movie addicts, and certainly more alcohol addicts in this country than there are narcotics addicts. ~ Shirley Chisholm. quotes

My God, what do we want? What does any human being want? Take away an accident of pigmentation of a thin layer of our outer skin and there is no difference between me and anyone else. All we want is for that trivial difference to make no difference. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency of the United States. I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I’m not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I’m equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests… I am the candidate of the people… ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Rhetoric never won a revolution yet. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

When the Kerner Commission told white America what black America has always known, that prejudice and hatred built the nation’s slums, maintains them and profits by them, white America could not believe it. But it is true. Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty, and racism and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free – (Chapter 9). ~ Shirley Chisholm.

My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn’t always discuss for reasons of political expediency. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time… its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings or, in extreme cases, to appoint a commission. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Some fine men are in Congress, too few, trying to do a responsible job. But they are surrounded and almost neutralized by a greater number whose instinct is to make a deal before they make a decision. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black, and a woman proves, I would think, that our society is not yet either just or free. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I am not antiwhite, because I understand that white people, like black ones, are victims of a racist society. They are products of their time and place. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Thoughtful Shirley Chisholm Quotes

That’s what’s wrong with the country. There are too many ‘good soldiers’ accepting too many bad decisions. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Following along the path of her role models, Shirley knew that if she waited for permission, she’d never receive her turn. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

She didn’t need to be the Democratic Nominee in order to be a catalyst for change. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The most tragic error into which older people can fall is one that is common among educators and politicians. It is to use youth as scapegoats for the sins of their elders. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

I’m looking to no man walking this earth for approval of what I’m doing. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always had them; they always have and they always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while the poor women go to quacks? ~ Shirley Chisholm.

If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

“Liberty and justice for all” were beautiful words, but the ugly fact was that liberty and justice were only for white males. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The only criterion that matters in picking members for committee vacancies is their length of service in Congress. Congress calls it the seniority system. I call it the senility system. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

You can’t argue with someone whose premises are completely different from yours, where there is not even an inch of common ground. ~ Shirley Chisholm.


The one thing you’ve got going: your one vote. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

The rest of the world sees through the sham, when we pour billions in “foreign aid,” which is really military assistance, into underdeveloped countries where the citizens continue to starve – as do millions of our own. ~ Shirley Chisholm.

So these were the 77 top Shirley Chisholm quotes that are powerful and empowering.

If you like these quotes and sayings, then you can also read my other posts on Jordan Belfort quotes and Tyler Perry quotes.

Short Biography of Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm broke barriers as the first African American woman in Congress and made history again in 1972 by running for president, showing her fierce advocacy with her motto “Unbought and Unbossed.”

Born in Brooklyn to immigrant parents, she overcame challenges related to race and gender from an early age.

Despite starting as a teacher Chisholm’s political career flourished, leading to significant contributions in fighting for equality and justice.

Full Name Shirley Anita Chisholm
Born November 30, 1924, Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died January 1, 2005, Ormond Beach, Florida, United States
Education Brooklyn College (BA) and Columbia University (MA)
Spouse Arthur Hardwick (m. 1977–1986), Conrad Chisholm (m. 1949–1977)
Party Democratic Party
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom
In office January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1981
Resting place Forest Lawn Cemetery
Parents Ruby Seale, Charles Christopher St. Hill
Siblings Odessa St. Hill, Muriel St. Hill

Even though she faced discrimination she still inspired many with her presidential campaign, capturing a significant number of delegate votes.

Chisholm retired in 1983, leaving a legacy of courage and change.

Quick Interesting Facts about Shirley Chisholm

  • Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress and later ran for president as a Democrat.
  • In 1972, she became the first woman to seek the Democratic nomination for president.
  • Born in Brooklyn to Caribbean parents, Chisholm had a slight English accent from her time in Barbados.
  • Education played a huge role in her life; she earned a BA from Brooklyn College and an MA from Columbia University.
  • Chisholm’s first career was in education, leading to her role as an educational consultant for New York City.
  • Her entry into politics began with her election to the New York State Assembly and later to Congress due to redistricting.
  • Known for being outspoken, she was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus.
  • Her historic presidential campaign faced challenges, including assassination threats, but she won 152 delegates.
  • Chisholm’s campaign surprised many, including the Congressional Black Caucus, leading to some controversy.
  • Despite their differences, she formed an unlikely alliance with George Wallace, which helped pass significant legislation.
  • After retiring from Congress, Chisholm continued teaching and speaking, influencing future generations.
  • Chisholm’s legacy includes her “Unbought and Unbossed” motto, and she’s been honored posthumously with awards and recognition, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • Viola Davis initially announced she’d play Chisholm in a biopic, which later went to Danai Gurira.
  • Kamala Harris paid tribute to Chisholm’s campaign colors in her own presidential run.
  • Chisholm wanted to be remembered as a catalyst for change, not just for her historic bids for office.

Top Questions about Shirley Chisholm

Q: What was Shirley Chisholm best known for?

A: Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first Black woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress, serving New York’s 12th district until 1983.

Q: What happened to Shirley Chisholm after she left Congress?

A: After retiring in 1983, Chisholm taught at Mount Holyoke College and remained active in politics. Health issues led her to decline an ambassadorship in 1993. In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

Q: Did Shirley Chisholm have any children?

A: Shirley Chisholm was married to Conrad Q. Chisholm from 1949 until their divorce in 1977, and they did not have children.

Q: What lessons can we learn from Shirley Chisholm’s life?

A: Chisholm championed equal rights, advocated for women’s involvement in public service, and supported civil rights, voting rights, and women’s reproductive rights.

Q: When did Shirley Chisholm make history in her presidential bid?

A: In 1972, Shirley Chisholm made history as the first African American from a major political party to run for president and the first Democratic woman of any race to do so.

Q: What was Shirley Chisholm’s childhood like?

A: Born in Brooklyn in 1924 to a Barbadian mother, Shirley Chisholm spent a significant part of her early years on her grandmother’s farm in Barbados before returning to Brooklyn at age 11.

Q: What was Shirley Chisholm’s role in early childhood education?

A: Shirley Chisholm worked in preschools, became the director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center, and consulted for the New York City Bureau of Child Welfare, advocating for early childhood education and working mothers.

Q: What is Shirley Chisholm’s background?

A: Shirley Chisholm was born to a Guyanese American father and a Barbadian American mother in Brooklyn, New York, on November 30, 1924.

Q: What educational achievements did Chisholm accomplish before her political career?

A: Shirley Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College, where she excelled as a debater and advocated for African American history and women in student government. She later earned a master’s degree in elementary education from Columbia University.

Q: How did Shirley Chisholm’s early life in NYC influence her?

A: Growing up in one of the poorest communities in New York City, Shirley Chisholm faced economic struggles and discrimination, yet she demonstrated incredible intellect and an aptitude for academics and activism from a young age.

Q: How did Shirley Chisholm start her political career?

A: Shirley Chisholm began her political career by campaigning for Lewis Flagg Jr. to become Brooklyn’s first Black judge, which led her to get involved in various political groups focused on economic empowerment and civil rights.

Q: What were Shirley Chisholm’s contributions in the NY State Assembly?

A: In the New York State Assembly, Shirley Chisholm’s major achievements included securing unemployment benefits for domestic workers and creating a program that helped underprivileged students attend college.

Q: What milestone did Chisholm achieve in Congress?

A: Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1968, representing New York’s 12th congressional district.

Q: How did Shirley Chisholm impact racial and gender equity on a national level?

A: During her 1972 presidential run, Shirley Chisholm focused her platform on racial and gender equity, bringing these critical issues to the forefront of national discourse.

Q: What were some of Chisholm’s advocacy areas in Congress?

A: While in Congress, Shirley Chisholm advocated for reproductive rights, broadened food stamp programs, and fought to increase minimum wage, among other causes.

Q: How did Shirley Chisholm contribute to legislative change regarding minimum wage?

A: In 1974, Shirley Chisholm played a key role in passing legislation that expanded minimum wage standards to include domestic workers and more state and local government employees.

Q: What organizations did Shirley Chisholm help establish after leaving Congress?

A: After retiring from Congress, Shirley Chisholm co-founded the National Congress of Black Women and African American Women for Reproductive Freedom.

Q: What recognition did Shirley Chisholm receive posthumously?

A: Posthumously, Shirley Chisholm was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2015 and was honored with a “forever stamp” by the U.S. Postal Service in 2014.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar