Shirley Chisholm

Catalyst for Change

Barbara Winslow

First Edition • November 26, 2013 • 208 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813347691 • $22.00 USD$28.50 CAN

Ebook ISBN: 9780813347707 • $9.99 USD$12.99 CAN

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A staunch proponent of breaking down racial and gender barriers, Shirley Chisholm had the esteemed privilege of being a pioneer in many aspects of her life. She was the first African American woman from Brooklyn elected to the New York State legislature and the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968. She also made a run for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972. Focusing on Chisholm’s lifelong advocacy for fair treatment, access to education, and equal pay for all American minority groups, this book explores the life of a remarkable woman in the context of twentieth-century urban America and the tremendous social upheaval that occurred after World War II.

About the Lives of American Women series:
Selected and edited by renowned women’s historian Carol Berkin, these brief biographies are designed for use in undergraduate courses. Rather than a comprehensive approach, each biography focuses instead on a particular aspect of a women’s life that is emblematic of her time, or which made her a pivotal figure in the era. The emphasis is on a “good read,” featuring accessible writing and compelling narratives, without sacrificing sound scholarship and academic integrity. Primary sources at the end of each biography reveal the subject’s perspective in her own words. Study questions and an annotated bibliography support the student reader.

Barbara Winslow is professor and historian who teaches in the School of  Education and for the Women’s Studies Program at Brooklyn College. Her first book was Sylvia Pankhurst: Sexual Politics and Political Activism and she coauthored Clio in the Classroom: A Guide for Teaching US Women’s History in the Classrooms. She is the founder and project director of the Shirley Chisholm Project of Brooklyn Women’s Activism, a digital repository of information about Chisholm and about women’s activism in Brooklyn.

Series Editor Carol Berkin is a well-known women’s historian and the author of many popular and scholarly books, including Civil War Wives. She is Professor of History Emerita at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and she is a member of the Society of American Historians.

1. Barbados
2. Brooklyn
3. All Politics is Local
4. Black Power
5. New York State Assemblywoman
6. I Am Woman
7. An Unquiet Congresswoman
8. Testing the Presidential Waters
9. On the Chisholm Trail
10. Political and Personal Transformations

“When my daughter announced to her 4th grade teachers that she wanted to study Shirley Chisholm for her Women’s History Month project, they responded by saying, “who?” Their response is indicative of the nearly complete erasure of this extraordinary woman from our shared political cannon. This text rushes in to fill the unconscionable void where knowledge of Shirley Chisholm should reside. Resisting the seduction of rendering Chisholm as an exclusively heroic figure, Barbara Winslow insists on delving into the complex, multi-layered, and deeply human reality of Shirley Chisholm. Winslow then tells a story we must know if we are to understand our own political moment. One in which a reelected black president governs alongside a Democratic Congressional delegation composed of a majority of women and racial minorities who were voted into office by an interracial coalition of voters led by women of color. This reality is quite literally unimaginable in the absence of Chisholm’s trailblazing political career. This is a book that should have been written three decades ago, but now that it is here, it is required reading for all who claim to know American political history.” – Melissa Harris-Perry, Director, Anna Julia Cooper Project on Gender, Race and Politics in the South Tulane University and Host of MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry”

Praise for the Lives of American Women series:

“Finally! The majority of students—by which I mean women—will have the opportunity to read biographies of women from our nation’s past. (Men can read them too, of course!) The ‘Lives of American Women’ series features an eclectic collection of books, readily accessible to students who will be able to see the contributions of women in many fields over the course of our history. Long overdue, these books will be a valuable resource for teachers, students, and the public at large.” —Cokie Roberts, author of Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty

“Just what any professor wants: books that will intrigue, inform, and fascinate students! These short, readable biographies of American women—specifically designed for classroom use—give instructors an appealing new option to assign to their history students.” —Mary Beth Norton, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History, Cornell University

“For educators keen to include women in the American story, but hampered by the lack of thoughtful, concise scholarship, here comes ‘Lives of American Women,’ embracing Abigail Adams’s counsel to John—‘remember the ladies.’ And high time, too!” —Lesley S. Herrmann, Executive Director, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

“These books are, above all, fascinating stories that will engage and inspire readers. They offer a glimpse into the lives of key women in history who either defied tradition or who successfully maneuvered in a man’s world to make an impact. The stories of these vital contributors to American history deliver just the right formula for instructors looking to provide a more complicated and nuanced view of history.” —Rosanne Lichatin, 2005 Gilder Lehrman Preserve America History Teacher of the Year

“Students both in the general survey course and in specialized offerings like my course on U.S. women’s history can get a great understanding of an era from a short biography. Learning a lot about a single but complex character really helps to deepen appreciation of what women’s lives were like in the past.” —Patricia Cline Cohen, University of California, Santa Barbara

“Biographies are, indeed, back. Not only will students read them, biographies provide an easy way to demonstrate particularly important historical themes or ideas. . . . Undergraduate readers will be challenged to think more deeply about what it means to be a woman, citizen, and political actor. . . . I am eager to use this in my undergraduate survey and specialty course.” —Jennifer Thigpen, Washington State University, Pullman

“The Lives of American Women authors raise all of the big issues I want my classes to confront—and deftly fold their arguments into riveting narratives that maintain students’ excitement.” —Woody Holton, author of Abigail Adams

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