Tuesday, President Obama honored 17 Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award for a civilian. Among the list of honorees was Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress.
Here’s what the president had to say about Chisholm:
Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress, beginning the first of seven terms in the House of Representatives. In 1969 she became one of the founding members of what would become the Congressional Black Caucus. Not satisfied, Chisholm went on to make history yet again, becoming the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. She was a champion of minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress. After leaving Congress in 1983, Chisholm taught at Mount Holyoke College and frequently lectured and gave speeches at colleges and universities throughout the country.
Through her fierce advocacy and activism, Chisholm, whose campaign motto was “unbought and unbossed,” opened the door for Black politicians, including President Obama. Her refusal to simply be thankful for making it to Congress often put Chisholm at odds with her peers, but she had “no intention of just sitting quietly and observing.”