45 Shirley Chisholm Quotes that Empower You to Fight for Your Ideal

April 04, 2022 5 min read

Shirley Chisholm Quotes

Before Hillary Clinton or Kamala Harris, Shirley Chisholm was both the first woman and the first African-American to run for President of the United States. Throughout her tenure as a member of the party, she raised her voice for racial and gender equality. Shirley Chisholm quotes about power and motivation are appreciated by all.  

Given below is a list of famous quotes from this remarkable woman. Chew them up to strengthen yourself and fight for your beliefs! 

Shirley Chisholm Biography 

Shirley Anita Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author who is best known for becoming the first African-American congresswoman in 1968. Chisholm represented the New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. 

In 1972, Chisholm made history again when she ran for the Democratic nomination, becoming the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties. 

Shirley Chisholm Quotes

N.G. Slater Corporation, 1972, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 30, 1924, Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946 and began her career as a teacher. Being the first woman elected at Congress, Shirley Chisholm believed in racial equality and voting rights and fought for it.  

Throughout her years as an eminent personality of a major political party, she tried to bring about a positive change in society. She also worked as a consultant to the New York City Division of Day Care. She died on January 1, 2005, at the age of 85, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. 

In honor of the woman who dared to be a catalyst of change, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and powerful Shirley Chisholm quotes. 

Most Powerful And Inspirational Shirley Chisholm Quotes  

"You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.”
"If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
"It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact. The warmth, gentleness, and compassion that are part of the female stereo- type are positive human values, values that are becoming more and more important as the values of our world begin to shatter and fall from our grasp.”
Shirley Chisholm Quotes

The News JournalPublic domain

"Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.” 
"I have never cared too much what people say. What I am interested in is what they do."
"When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses."
" The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens."
"In the end anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing: anti-humanism." 
"An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." 
"Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth." 
"I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo." 
Shirley Chisholm Quotes

Roger Higgins, World Telegram staff photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

"Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread, and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal." 
"I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself." 
"When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst for change." 
"Political organizations are formed to keep the powerful in power. Their first rule is 'don’t rock the boat.'" 
"At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else." 
"I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential." 
"All we want is for the trivial difference to make no difference.” 
"I am the people's politician. If the day should ever come when the people can't save me, I'll know I'm finished."
Shirley Chisholm Quotes
"The next time a woman of whatever color, or a dark-skinned person of whatever sex aspires to be president, the way should be a little smoother because I helped pave it." 
"Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting." 
"Apparently all they know here in Washington about Brooklyn is that a tree grew there." 
"Take away an accident of pigmentation of a thin layer of our outer skin and there is no difference between me and anyone else." 
"Laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings." 
Shirley Chisholm Quotes

>National Archives and Records Administration , Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

"The one thing you’ve got going: your one vote." 
"America has the laws and the material resources it takes to insure justice for all its people. What it lacks is the heart, the humanity." 
"Anyone who takes that role must pay a price." 
“Liberty and justice for all" were beautiful words, but the ugly fact was that liberty and justice were only for white males.” 
"As things are now, no one can tell who members of Congress are responsible to, except that it does not often appear to be to the people." 
"Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased." 
"I’m looking to no man walking this earth for approval of what I’m doing." 
"It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact." 
"We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves." 
"We have been so patient and loyal and what has it gotten us? We want our full share now." 
"Of my two 'handicaps', being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black." 
"Some fine men are in Congress, too few, trying to do a responsible job." 
"To label family planning and legal abortion programs 'genocide' is male rhetoric, for male ears." 
"Women have learned to flex their political muscles. You got to flex that muscle to get what you want." 
Shirley Chisholm Quotes
"'Liberty and justice for all' were beautiful words, but the ugly fact was that liberty and justice were only for white males." 
"I love America not for what she is, but for what she can become." 
"Some members of Congress are among the best actors in the world." 
"Tremendous amounts of talent are lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt." 
"Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something." 
"There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent creative personality for a fighter." 
"That’s what’s wrong with the country. There are too many ‘good soldiers’ accepting too many bad decisions." 

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Chisholm spoke often about the opportunities that she and other marginalized people weren’t able to access because they looked different than the norm. While she fell short of reaching the Oval Office, she made a major impact on American politics with both her successes and failures. Her always-pointed commentary along the way providing insight into her viewpoint as an unapologetic trailblazer. 

Today, we celebrate Chisholm, and continue her fight for representation and equality. 


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