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First Black Congresswoman Honored With Postage Stamp

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Stamp Honors First Black Congresswoman and Bed-Stuy Icon Shirley ChisholmBy: Stephanie Allen-Gobert

On Friday, January 31, at 11:00 am, black elected officials and activists celebrated the legacy of Bed-Stuy native Shirley Chisholm, with the unveiling of a USPS forever stamp. The celebration and unveiling took place at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. Chisholm is the country’s first black congresswoman who later ran for president in 1972. The stamp, part of USPS “Black Heritage Series,” was originally painted by American artist Robert Shetterly as part of his “Americans Who Tell the Truth Series.”The Black Heritage forever stamp kicked off black history month.

The born Democrat, Chisholm served seven terms in Congress, from 1969 until her retirement in 1982, representing central Brooklyn and becoming a founding member of the House of Representatives’ black caucus in 1969. She died in 2005. Chisholm was characterized by her fire and commitment. At the time of her 1972 presidential campaign, Chisholm was the first person of color to seek the presidential nomination of a major political party. She ran in order to show underrepresented members of society that their faces could also be seen in the spotlight, she said. Chisholm also was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) in 1971 and the Congressional Women’s Caucus in 1977.

“I ran because somebody had to do it first,” Chisholm said at the time.

Chisholm’s campaign motto was “Unbought and Unbossed” and among issues that made her stand out against opponent Farmer (they agreed on many points) she highlighted discrimination against women. Her district with a liberal bend and 80% registered Democrats gave her 67 percent of the vote.

“Congresswoman Chisholm’s groundbreaking and historic advocacy for women and the African American community across the nation is a source of constant strength and inspiration, as I serve many of the same communities she represented,” Assemblyman Walter Mosely said.

“Every day when I walk into my office at the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building and am greeted by her portrait outside my door, I am reminded of her legacy as one of the greatest catalysts for change of the 20th century.”

The stamps are currently available for purchase at USPS locations or online.