Shirley Chisholm, Black Educator Hall of Fame Member

Every day this month, the Center for Black Educator Development, in partnership with and Citizen Ed, will highlight a Black Educator Hall of Famer. But, don’t forget, e’ry month is Black History MonthFebruary is just the Blackest.

Today, our featured Black Educator is Shirley Chisholm.

Shirley Chisholm is well known as the first Black woman to enter Congress and the first Black person to run for a major party’s nomination for president. In addition to that, Shirley Chisholm was also an educator who cared deeply about the children of her community. She’s an example of how our champions in the halls of power come from the people.

Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm was born in November of 1924, in Brooklyn, from Barbadian parents, who sent Shirley to Barbados to live with her maternal grandmother at the age of three. Much of her primary education came on the Island of Barbados and Chisholm credits her much of her educational successes to her well-rounded early education – an inspiration for her impact to be sure.

Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn’s Girls high in 1942, from Brooklyn College (cum laude) in 1946 and from Columbia University in 1951 with a master’s degree in early childhood education. Immediately after undergrad, Chisholm became a nursery schoolteacher’s aide at the Mt. Calvary Child Care Center in Harlem. As she furthered her education, Chisholm not only became a teacher, but a director and leader of her own team of educators.

From 1953 to 1954 she was the director of the Friend in Need Nursery, located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, and then from 1954 to 1959 she was director of the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center, located in Lower Manhattan. At the latter there were 130 children, ages three to seven, and 24 employees reporting to her. 

From 1959 to 1964, she was an educational consultant for the Division of Day Care in New York City’s Bureau of Child Welfare. There she was in charge of supervising ten day-care centers as well as starting up new ones. She became known as an authority on issues involving early education and child welfare.

Her work and experiences led her into politics.  She became politically active with the Democratic Party and quickly developed a reputation as a person who challenged the traditional roles of women, African Americans, and the poor.

Chisholm spent much of her professional life working on behalf of the students and families in her neighborhood. She had an intimate knowledge of who they were and what they needed at a time where they may have felt ignored or invisible. It was with that mindset and energy that Chisholm entered the New York State Assembly and later became the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black woman to secure a major-party nomination for the United States presidency and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party‘s nomination. When Chisholm initially arrived at the House of Representatives, she was placed on the Forestry Committee. Chisholm balked, was reassigned, and eventually became a part of the Education and Labor Committee. Chisholm was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and served seven terms in Congress.

“Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.” – Shirley chisholm

This Black educator was indeed unbossed and unbought.

Shirley Chisholm, a member of the Black Educator Hall of Fame.

For more information on Shirley Chisholm, visit the following site.



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