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Monday, January 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | First black US Congresswoman dies

BBC NEWS | Americas | First black US Congresswoman dies

First black US Congresswoman dies
Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the US Congress and also the first woman to run for the presidency, has died, aged 80.

She was an outspoken advocate of women's and minority rights during her seven terms in the House of Representatives from 1969 until 1982.

She also famously sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972.

Ms Chisholm, who died on Saturday in Florida, had recently suffered several strokes, US media reported.

Activist

Born in New York in 1924, Shirley Chisholm was the eldest of four children of Caribbean immigrants to America.

She began her professional career as a nursery school teacher, and soon became actively involved in local politics with the Democratic Party.

I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo
Shirley Chisholm
She ran successfully for the New York State Assembly in 1964, before becoming the first black congresswoman - representing her native Brooklyn district - in the House of Representatives five years later.

During her terms in office she campaigned tirelessly for women's and minority rights, and was also a staunch critic of the Vietnam War.

Her failed presidential bid in 1972 was viewed as more symbolic than practical.

"I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo," she later wrote in her book The Good Fight.

After leaving Congress in 1982, she taught for several years at a college in Massachusetts and was also a speaker on the lecture circuit.

She spent the last years of her life living in Florida.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson called Shirley Chisholm "a woman of great courage".

"She was an activist and she never stopped fighting," he told the Associated Press news agency.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/4143389.stm

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