“I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.”
Today is the release day for the 40th Anniversary edition of Unbought and Unbossed, telling the great American story of Shirley Chisholm, the very first Black Congresswoman, representing my home birth city of New York. Before there was Hillary Rodham Clinton there was Shirley Chisolm, before there was Barack Obama there was Shirley Chisholm; the very first woman & African-American to run for the presidency of the United States of America. As we embark on the 1st anniversary celebration of electing the first African- American president, Black history month in February & woman’s history month in March ; the Shirley Chisholm freedom story told in Unbought & Unbossed is the perfect storm of inspiration & aspiration in recognition & celebration of the possibilities & accomplishments of all of the aforementioned designated national celebrations culminated in one amazing human being.
I was privileged to have Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm as a guest speaker at my high school in the late 80′s. It meant the world to me as a first generation African-American of Ghanaian decent in a predominately White boarding school in Connecticut. Meeting Mrs. Chisholm (a first generation African-American of Guyanese & Bajan decent) & learning about her story, her trials & accomplishments made me believe that no matter the obstacles, with a little sass, hard work, perseverance, a dream & innate conviction to always be oneself, the sky was the limit in whatever I wanted to be. That same year we had another guest speaker whose name I forget, but she was a well known Indian woman who also read palms. She read my palm & told me that I would be president one day. Well after meeting Mrs. Chisholm, I had no doubt that becoming president was a possibility in my life. The palm reader wouldn’t tell me exactly what type of president I would be, but already that goal has been accomplished because I have been president, founder, CEO & whatever big boss tag that one gets by owning & running my own company for over 14 years. I gave up that company last year to start the path anew to accomplish yet another set of life’s goals “la presidente” way (unbought & unbossed), continuing on the path of my palm reading & the inspiration & aspiration of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, remaining Free, True to self, Unbought & Unbossed.
“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.”
Run, don’t walk to buy this book & pick up a few copies as great gifts, particularly for the young women in your life. Congresswoman Chisholm probably had no idea of the level of inspiration & aspiration she brought to me & most likely many females, males, Americans, first generation children of immigrants in America & so many across class, race, gender & global lines. This book celebrates Mrs. Shirley Chisholm, the mother, the wife, the daughter, the activist, the politician, the educator, the woman, the human being & her legacy- which continues thru many of us known & unknown.
“The United States was said not to be ready to elect a Catholic to the Presidency when Al Smith ran in the 1920′s. But Smith’s nomination may have helped pave the way for the successful campaign John F. Kennedy waged in 1960. Who can tell? What I hope most is that now there will be others who will feel themselves as capable of running for high political office as any wealthy, good-looking white male”
“The hour has come in America that all of us in this room can no longer be the passive recipients of whatever the politics of a nation may decree for us as citizens within this realm, but if we have the courage of our convictions…If we desire to make a contribution to make this nation bring about the fulfillment of the American dream so that it is meaningful to every segment in America, we will forget what the world will say whether we are in our place or out of our place….Let me tell it to you this afternoon like it really is. The only thing that you have going my brothers and sisters, there’s only 1 thing you have going…your 1 vote…Don’t sell that vote out..the Black people of America are watching us find out what these candidates who need our votes to get across the top are going to do for us concretely not oratorically…In Unity There is Strength”