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Roanne Edwards

Known for her integrity and her powerful oratory skills, Shirley Chisholm is widely considered one of the foremost female speakers in the United States. With a character that she has described as “unbought and unbossed,” Chisholm became known as a politician who refused to allow fellow politicians, including the male-dominated Congressional Black Caucus, to deter her from her goals. In 1969 her first statement as a congressperson before the United States House of Representatives reflected her commitment to prioritizing the needs of the disadvantaged especially children She proclaimed her intent to vote No on every money bill that comes to the floor of this House that provides any funds for the Department of Defense While Chisholm advocated for civil rights for African Americans she regularly took up issues that concerned other people of color such as Native Americans and Spanish speaking migrants She also delivered important speeches on ...

Article

Daniel A. Dalrymple

Chisholm made a career out of breaking down barriers. She was both the first black woman to be elected to United States Congress and the first woman or African American to mount a serious run at a major party’s nomination for president. Chisholm forged a strong reputation for doing things her own way, spurning both the New York Democratic political machine and political decorum. Despite the obstacles that came with bucking the system, Chisholm always held her ground on important issues such as abortion, women’s rights, and civil rights.

Chisholm was born the eldest of three sisters to West Indian parents, Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn New York Shirley s father worked as a baker s helper and later a factory hand and her mother found employment as a seamstress However Hill and Seale quickly realized that their wages were insufficient ...

Article

Julie Gallagher

politician, women's rights advocate, and educator. Chisholm was born Shirley Anita St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, to Charles St. Hill and Ruby Seale, immigrants from the Caribbean island of Barbados. During the Depression, Chisholm and her two younger sisters were sent to live with their grandmother in Barbados. They stayed there for seven years. Chisholm claimed that her sense of pride in herself and her race came largely from her father, an ardent follower of Marcus Garvey.

Chisholm attended Brooklyn College from 1942 to 1946, where she developed her oratorical skills in the Debate Society. At the same time, her membership in the Harriet Tubman Society and the Political Science Society stimulated her racial and political consciousness. Her leadership skills attracted attention, and one of her professors suggested that she consider entering politics.

Chisholm's career in early childhood education spanned nearly two decades. Between 1946 ...

Article

Patricia E. Canson

U.S. congresswoman, was born Shirley St. Hill in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest daughter of Charles St. Hill, a laborer born in British Guiana (now Guyana), and Ruby Seale, a seamstress born in Barbados. Shirley's first three years were spent in Brownsville, a predominantly Jewish area of Brooklyn. Finding the wages for unskilled factory work insufficient to care for three children properly, the St. Hills sent their three daughters to Barbados, where they lived with their maternal grandparents on the family farm. Shirley credits her grandmother Emily Seale with instilling in her a strong character and determination.

The girls returned to Brownsville in 1934 after their mother gave birth to another daughter Despite the social and financial hardships of the Depression Ruby encouraged her children to respect the values of civility thrift poise humility education and spirituality though the sisters endured a substantial amount of teasing in the ...

Article

Mohammed Badrul Alam

one of the most articulate and progressive black politicians of the latter half of the twentieth century. Mfume was born Frizzell Gerald Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, on 24 October 1948. He was educated first at the Community College of Baltimore and later at Morgan State University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1976. Even as a young man, Mfume showed his leadership skills through his election as head of the Black Student Union at the Baltimore college. Mfume earned a master's degree in liberal arts with a concentration in international studies at Johns Hopkins University. For a brief period he was also an adjunct professor at Morgan State University, teaching political science and communications. During the early 1970s he legally changed his name to Kweisi Mfume—a Ghanaian name meaning “conquering son of kings.”

Mfume s political career started when he won a seat on the Baltimore City ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

The eldest of four children, Kweisi Mfume (born Frizzell Gray) was raised in a poor community just outside Baltimore, Maryland, by his mother and stepfather, Mary and Clifton Gray. After years of physical abuse, Mary Gray left her husband in 1960 and moved the family to a neighborhood closer to the city. Four years later she was diagnosed with cancer and within a short time learned the disease was terminal. Mfume and his sisters were devastated by the news and suffered another traumatic blow when she died, literally, in the arms of her only son. In his autobiography, No Free Ride, Mfume recalls just how difficult it was losing his mother. Mfume quit high school after his mother died and worked to support his three sisters. Disillusioned, he also began hanging out on the streets, becoming a gang leader and fathering several illegitimate children.

Disappointed with ...

Article

Prudence D. Cumberbatch

television and radio host, U.S. congressman, and president and chief executive officer of the NAACP, was born Frizzell Gray, the first of four children of Mary Elizabeth Willis in Turners Station, Maryland. His mother worked at several occupations, including as an elevator operator and as a domestic, while Clifton Gray his stepfather was employed as a truck driver Gray was raised believing that he shared the father of his three sisters only later did he learn that he was not Clifton Gray s biological son Gray spent his early childhood in Turners Station a small rural black community thirteen miles south of Baltimore City wedged between predominantly white Dundalk and Sparrows Point home to Bethlehem Steel the largest employer in the area Founded in the late 1880s by an African American doctor Turners Station was isolated on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay In ...