Despite showing early promise in a political career, Shirley Chisholm became a nursery school teacher. At the time, politics was a white man’s game. But in 1964, she successfully ran for the New York State Legislature and, four years later, became the first Black woman in Congress where she was nicknamed “Fighting Shirley.” She served seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was the first Black woman to serve on the House Rules Committee, the powerful committee that controls how legislation is debated.
In 1972, Shirley Chisholm was also the first Black person to seek the nomination for president of a major political party. Her run gave other women the courage to follow her lead and paved the way for women to be taken seriously as candidates for the job of president of the United States.