Congress honors first black woman memberStaff Reporter | Posted March 4, 2009 9:37 AM
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, and members of the CBC unveiled a new portrait Tuesday to honor the first African American Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, who was sworn in 40 years ago this year.
Chisholm represented a district in New York City, now represented in part by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
"When Shirley Chisholm joined our colleagues Chairman John Conyers and Chairman Charlie Rangel, among others, to found the CBC, it had just 13 members," Pelosi said at the event. "In that year, 1969, she imagined the organization that would grow to 42 members today, and serve as the conscience of the Congress. It stands as tribute to Congresswoman Chisholm's vision of a Congress that represents all Americans," Pelosi said.
Chisholm represented New York's 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969 to 1983 and was the first black candidate to run for President of the United States on a major political party and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"Less than a year before she died, Congresswoman Chisholm was asked how she wanted to be remembered," said Pelosi. "She said then, '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. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.'"
Speaker Pelosi said the new portrait on the Capitol grounds would "ensure that Shirley Chisholm will indeed long be remembered as a catalyst for change in America" and described Chisholm as a "brave pioneer" who was "unwilling to settle for the status quo."
"With this portrait, we make certain that when the story is told about some of the most critical struggles in our nation's history - the unending fight for the ideal of equality that is both our nation's heritage and our hope - Shirley Chisholm's name is remembered," said Pelosi.
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