12019-03-12T23:57:18+00:00Stanford University Pressaf84c3e11fe030c51c61bbd190fa82a3a1a1282414plainpublished2019-11-04T19:31:36+00:00Production Editor7a3dce28be212b1ba5b4a7a50f3d6a8d76b58c74On January 29, 1972, the New York Amsterdam News’ front page announced that Brooklyn Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm would be the first black woman to run for president as a major party candidate (Charlene Mitchell ran on the Communist Party ticket in 1968). The newspaper’s headline floated a question—“Madame President?”—that has still not been answered in the United States (click to view PDF).
Announcing her candidacy, Chisholm said, “I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud. I am not the candidate of the Women’s Movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or special interests...I stand before you today to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American people will not vote for a qualified candidate simply because he is not white or because she is not a male. I do not believe that, in 1972, the great majority of Americans harbor such narrow and petty prejudices.”
My favorite part of this article is the subheadline—“Our Shirley first Black woman to run”—because it speaks to the sense of pride many black people (especially black New Yorkers) felt in regard to Chisholm’s campaign.
In the Democratic primaries, Chisholm earned 2.6 percent of the popular vote. Her 152 delegates put her in fourth place behind the Democratic Party’s nominee George McGovern, Henry Jackson, and George Wallace. “I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo,” Chisholm later said. “The next time a woman runs, or a black, a Jew or anyone from a group that the country is ‘not ready’ to elect to its highest office, I believe that he or she will be taken seriously from the start.”