Cover Image: Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm

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Member Reviews

Shirley Chisholm is one of my top anticipated reads of 2023 and it did not disappoint. Curwood does a fantastic job of intertwining the different parts of Shirley Chisholm’s personal and political life while keeping a good pace. As someone familiar with Chisholm, I still learned quite a bit from this book. Thank you to Netgalley and UNC Press for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I was so excited to read this book, and it was honestly one of the first books I chose as a request via netgalley! Unfortunately, there is a glitch with the system where I cannot read this item on my iPad through the app, and I don't have an ereader. I have submitted a few tickets about this, and I am really hoping this issue gets fixed so that I can give a proper review in the future. However, I definitely plan to purchase this for our library, and appreciate that I was offered the opportunity for a preview!
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This is a very interesting account of Shirley Chisholm. Whatever you think you know about her, please read this book. I found the book to be eye-opening in terms of life and political strategy. There are a lot of nuances that resonate with today's political landscape. This is definitely a biography worth readidng.
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This book is one of the most meaningful books I've read in my lifetime and provides an objective and informative overview of the life and career of Shirley Chisholm. This book is extensively researched and there was so much that I learned from reading. For example, I enjoyed reading about how Chisolm nearly succeeded in establishing universal childcare in the US in 1971 and how in 1974 she helped raised the minimum wage and even worked to expand it to more workers. 

Chisolm's commitment to Black feminist power politics set the bar for so many of our national leaders today and I appreciate how this book sang her praises and provided an overview of both who she was to her community and what she meant to politics in her time. I am so glad this book exists and it is one I will gift to my daughter when she is old enough to understand the history and heritage she carries as a young, Black woman. 

Thank you to the author & publisher for the e-arc copy and thank you ancestor Chisolm!
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For readers who don't know, Shirley Chisholm, in 1968 became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. She represented New York's 12th congressional district from 1969 to 1983. Further on in 1972, she became the first black candidate for a major-party nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party's nomination.

Her family was from Barbados and she thought of herself as a Barbadian American. She is one of the most significant historical figures in US history, and too few know her name. Her accomplishments are phenomenal especially given the discrimination she faced as a Black woman. 

Although there have been previous biographies of Chisholm, this new offering from Anastasia C. Curwood is more in-depth. From the University of North Carolina Press, and while intended for academic audiences, the book's style is written in an accessible manner so that even people who are not academics can follow along, which is good. 

The author breaks down the frameworks that Chisholm fit into, including Black feminist power, and explains why it is critical to remember that.

Readers wanting a more comprehensive look at the political landscape of the 1970s in the US will benefit tremendously from this text while balancing this with things going on in Chisholm's personal life such as her divorce. 

The book also details her upbringing, as well as her family's history in Barbados, including her great grandfather, their enslavement, marriage records, and more. Discrimination as well as harmful racist incidents she survived are chronicled here. Interestingly, Chisholm thought that being from the Caribbean meant less racial barriers for her, and less fear of white people. However, she encountered plenty of animosity and this proved an obstacle during her Brooklyn campaigns. 

Also chronicled are Chisholm's early educational experiences, her high school career and social clubs, university education including at Columbia University for early childhood education. "She studied while commuting on the subway and earned her degree in 1951 while also teaching."

Then, the book delves into the beginnings of Chisholm's political career, the people who tried to thwart her particularly in the UDC, and leading up to her first significant victory. The impact that her father's death had on her and the rest of her family is also discussed. 

The book also provides an analysis of Chisholm's platforms of Black Power with Black feminism, which were revolutionary at the time, especially the intersectional approach to anti-racism and combatting sexism. Through health challenges and demoralization, the book talks about her efforts to fight back and keep on her path. 

Other chapters examine her rise to Congress, the work she set about doing, her relationships with other politicians, the rise and fall of Nixon's presidency, and much more. 

This text is vital for both public and academic libraries as likely the most comprehensive biographical work on Chisholm's work and life to date.
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This is the most extensive biography of  Shirley Chisholm to date. It explores her childhood, her upbringing and the source for her values, and her education. Her political life is explored in detail, culminating with her presidential campaign in 1972. There are also details about her political life after that, until her death on New Year's Day 2005. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC.
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I was really excited to read a biography of Chisholm; I think she is a great overlooked figure in American history and that she never has been done justice.  Curwood corrects that by exploring her life and her politics, showing a woman who stood on her convictions and provided the template for strong female success in male dominated realm.  

Through Chisholm's campaigning, Curwood shows the importance of good political organizing, and how it is so influential to being a representative of the people.  In looking at Chisholm's presidential bid, Curwood focuses not necessarily on winning (which she clearly states Chisholm knew was not going to happen) but on the goals.  She puts the events in the context of the time and looks at the strengths and challenges of running as a woman in the late 1970s.  It also is a fascinating insight into personality, as Chisholm's impressions and poetry are used to help readers understand who she truly was.

The book is acutely aware of the intersection of issues surrounding Chisholm, most notably Vietnam and poverty.  We often think of this as a civil rights movement issue, but it didn't go away and wasn't confined to King or Malcolm X.

Ultimately, this book informs readers and gives those interested a roadmap with the goal of facing the system and to bring a bigger sense of inclusivity to politics.
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A great biography on Shirley Chisholm, something that is long overdue! I liked how the author attempted to separate fact from fiction in finding the real person behind the Shirley Chisholm mythos. In doing so, you see a full portrait of the outspoken, charismatic rule breaker who paved the way for so many in federal government.
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