Shirley Chisholm could have won


Shirley Chisholm could have won


The 1972 election was the most recent big expansion of voting rights: the age had just been lowered to 18, old enough to be drafted to Vietnam. I finally saw Chisholm ‘72: Unbought & Unbossed by @Shola Lynch. Talking heads are Paula Giddings @OctaviaEButler and @RepBarbaraLee!

Think our current lineup is a wide spectrum of Democrats? Shirley was running against George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie...and segregationist George Wallace of Alabama. Wallace was shot right before the Maryland primary, which he still won. He won 8+ states in all.

Muskie won New Hampshire, but his campaign was torpedoed by him shedding a tear. Later we learned that Nixon’s reelection campaign was responsible for planting false rumors about Muskie, which prompted the emotion. Also something about a hotel office break-in.

Nixon was reelected in a landslide: George McGovern carried only Massachusetts. So it’s safe to say Shirley Chisholm would have been at least as good a Democratic nominee. Shirley is the film’s only hero, appropriately.

The villains are less McGovern & Humphrey than Bella Abzug, Amiri Baraka & Walter Fauntroy - white women and black men who wouldn’t support her. But people of all races and genders did, and Shirley fought with ferocity & class all the way to the convention.

Her response to doubters? “If you can’t support me, or you can’t endorse me - then get out of my way.” She sued and won the right to be included in a TV debate.

When asked whether she should be VP, she answered crisply: “I could be President of this country. Believe it or not.”

The echoes of @KamalaHarris and @EWarren’s campaigns, and how necessary it still is to tell little girls they can run for president, are bittersweet. My 11-year-old son watched with me - he recognizes Gloria Steinem, btw - and asked me at the end why I was crying.

I explained as best I could how much it hurts that almost 50 years later, women who want public power still have to justify themselves. That many men are reluctant to support a woman candidate, and many women too.

But there's really only one way to change that. Shirley Chisholm asked to be remembered not as a first, but as a 20th century woman who was a catalyst for change. #Vanguard

@mayawiley When she became a federal judge, she was both the first woman *and* the first African-American judge on the prestigious Southern District of New York. For 5 years she was the only Af-Am judge; she was the only woman on the SDNY for 12 years.


Daily Suffragist






Daily Suffragist, “Shirley Chisholm could have won,” Daily Suffragist, accessed June 24, 2024,

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