Politics and Government

Federal Government

What black woman first ran for the office of the presidency?

In 1972 Shirley Chisholm (1924–2005) became the first black to seek to run for U.S. president representing one of the major parties, and the first black woman to seek the office. She sought to become the nominee of the Democratic Party. Chisholm pulled together a coalition of blacks, feminists, and other minorities. During the campaign, she received little support from white women-led organizations or black male-led organizations. Male opponents never considered her as a serious challenger. Hubert H. Humphrey and other candidates released 151 votes to Chisholm on the first ballot, but this was insufficient for her to win the nomination. Born Shirley Anita Saint Hill, she lived in Barbados for six years. She graduated from Brooklyn College and Columbia University. While at Columbia, Chisholm became involved with the local political organization, the Seventeenth Assembly District Democratic Club. It was through this experience that she learned the potential power of the black vote and women’s vote.

A U.S. Representative from New York from 1969 to 1983, Shirley Chisholm was the first African American to run for the office of president of the United States.


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