Shirley Chisholm’s Presidential Run Paved the Way for Kamala Harris to Become Vice President
Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm, a trailblazing Brooklyn-born politician, famously remarked, “If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” She embodied this sentiment as she became the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and broke barriers as the first Black woman to run for president as a major-party candidate in 1972. She marked history again as the first Black woman to participate in a presidential debate. It can be said that Chisholm's legacy laid the foundation for Madam Vice President Kamala Harris to occupy the seat she now holds.
Already distinguished as the first African-American woman to serve in Congress, Chisholm announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972, rallying under the memorable slogan "unbought and unbossed." Despite her loss to South Dakota Senator George McGovern, who would later be defeated by Republican candidate Richard Nixon, Chisholm's campaign was characterized by courageous, tenacious, and candid speeches. She fearlessly tackled issues of systemic racism and sexism, drawing from her unique firsthand experiences.
In the face of unprecedented discrimination from various quarters, Chisholm fearlessly voiced her opposition to the Vietnam War, advocated for nationwide school lunch programs, supported extended hours at daycare facilities to assist working mothers, and championed a guaranteed minimum annual income for families. Her groundbreaking presidential bid left an indelible mark, creating a notable crack in the enduring glass ceiling that would pave the way for future women and people of color, as noted by L'Officiel.
Nearly five decades later, Chisholm's historic campaign has gained renewed significance. Her influence extends well beyond statues and the realm of the visual. Following Joe Biden's announcement in August that Kamala Harris, a former California D.A. and US Senator, would be his running mate, history was made as Harris became the first woman of color ever positioned on a presidential ticket for the general election. Interestingly, during Harris's own bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, she paid tribute to Chisholm's 1972 "Catalyst for Change" campaign by incorporating elements of it into her "For the People" logo.
Being the first woman, the first Black individual, and the first Asian American to hold such a prominent position in the US government, Kamala Harris's appointment represents a historic milestone. In her victory speech, she pays tribute to the women who paved the way for her, notably acknowledging the influence of Chisholm.
She said, “I’m thinking about [my mother] and about the generations of women—Black women, Asian, White, Latina, Native American women who throughout our nation’s history have paved the way for this moment tonight. Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty, and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often, overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy."
"All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard," Harris continued. "Tonight, I reflect on their struggle, their determination, and the strength of their vision—to see what can be, unburdened by what has been. And I stand on their shoulders," she concluded.
View this post on Instagram
Furthermore, on her Instagram account, the Vice President extended birthday wishes to the congresswoman and credited her for blazing the trail, stating that Chisholm had laid the foundation for her own achievements. "On her birthday, we celebrate her brilliance and boldness to break down barriers, fight to increase the minimum wage, and speak for those who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice in the political process," she captioned the post.
More from Inquisitr