In 1968, New Yorkers elected and sent to Washington the first African American woman ever elected to Congress. Shirley Chisholm. Forty-six years ago.
And 42 years ago today – on July 10, 2014 – Rep. Shirley Chisholm went to the 1972 Democratic Convention as a presidential candidate, again breaking ground. When she formally announced her candidacy January 25, 1972, she became the first woman and the first African-American to seek the nomination of the Democratic Party for the nation’s highest office.
It’s been 46 years since our neighbor New York sent a black woman to Congress. Our own New Jersey congressional delegation, while it has its standouts and villains on merit, is also all-male and [nearly*] all-white. Rush Holt, who fits that category, but also is principled, intelligent and progressive, joyously supports Bonnie Watson Coleman to succeed him.
We’ve seen Bonnie Watson Coleman stand up to Chris Christie when powerful people in her own party were waving him on. She’s got leadership chops; Assembly Majority Leader and state Democratic chair. And when she speaks out, it’s a progressive voice. It was 46 years ago that voters in New York’s 12th sent Shirley Chisholm to Congress. Voters in New Jersey’s 12th can make history in November.
I’ve seen a lot of politicians, some I had faith in, forget they once had principles, trade better judgement for the chance to cozy up to a powerful governor, or shrink away in the face of demands from unelected power-brokers. When things look up a little, right now it’s the two people in the photo above that make me smile.
*corrected, yup I forgot about Payne. Need coffee…