Welcome to the 258 marchers who signed up yesterday thanks to your invitation proclamations!!
Your seeds are already sprouting! If you're a newcomer and you want to catch up on our introductory email, "Prepare the Soil," or yesterday's seeds, you can always find all of our seedy posts on our homepage, www.seedstoscatter.org.
Seed of Inspiration
Each Thursday, in honor of "Throwback Thursday" and Women's History Month, we'll bring you a biography of a "seedy" woman of history of whom it can be said: "nevertheless, she persisted."
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
In 1968 Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress. Chisholm is a model of independence and honesty and has championed many issues including civil rights, aid for the poor, and women's rights.
Early Education and Hardship
Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Barbadian parents. When she was three years old, Shirley was sent to live with her grandmother on a farm in Barbados. When Chisholm was ten years old, she returned to New York during the height of the Great Depression. Life was not easy for the Chisholms, and Shirley's parents sacrificed much for their eight children.
Chisholm attended New York public schools in Brooklyn. Chisholm won tuition scholarships to several distinguished colleges but was unable to afford the room and board. At the urging of her parents, she decided to live at home and attend Brooklyn College.
While training to be a teacher, Chisholm became active in several campus and community groups. She developed an interest in politics, but soon, she developed a deep resentment toward the role of women in local politics, which, at the time, consisted mostly of staying in the background and playing a secondary role to their male equals. Through campus politics and her work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Chisholm found a way to voice her opinions about economic and social structures in a rapidly changing nation.
From the Classroom to Politics
After graduating with honors from Brooklyn College in 1946, Chisholm began work as a nursery school teacher and later as a director of schools for early childhood education. She became politically active with the Democratic Party and quickly developed a reputation as a person who challenged the traditional roles of women, African Americans, and the poor. In 1949, she married Conrad Chisholm, and the couple settled in Brooklyn.
During her successful career as a teacher, Chisholm became involved in several organizations including the League of Women Voters and the Seventeenth Assembly District Democratic Club.
An Outspoken Politician
After a successful career as a teacher, Chisholm decided to run for the New York State Assembly. Her ideals were perfect for the times. In the mid-1960s the civil rights movement was in full swing. Across the nation, activists were working for equal civil rights for all Americans. In 1964 Chisholm was elected to the assembly.
One of the successful bills she supported during her time in the assembly provided assistance for poor students to go on to higher education. Another provided employment insurance coverage for personal and domestic employees. Still another bill reversed a law that caused female teachers in New York to lose their tenure while they were out on maternity leave.
A New Congresswoman
Chisholm served in the state assembly until 1968, when she decided to run for the U.S. Congress. Her opponent was the civil rights leader James Farmer. Chisholm won the election and began a long career in the U.S. House of Representatives, lasting from the Ninety-first through the Ninety-seventh Congress (1969–1982).
Taking a Stand
With the Vietnam War (1955–75) raging overseas, Chisholm protested the amount of money being spent for the defense budget while social programs suffered. Chisholm argued that money should not be spent for war while many Americans were hungry, poorly educated, and without adequate housing.
Chisholm was also a strong supporter of women's rights. Early in her career as a congresswoman, she took a stand on the issue of abortion and supported a woman's right to choose. She also spoke against traditional roles for women professionals, arguing that women were capable of entering many other professions. Black women especially, she felt, had been pushed into stereotypical roles, or conventional professions, such as maids and nannies. Her antiwar and women's liberation views made Chisholm a popular speaker on college campuses.
In 1972 Chisholm ran for the highest office in the land—President of the United States of America. In addition to her interest in civil rights, she spoke out about the judicial system in the United States, police brutality, prison reform, gun control, drug abuse, and numerous other topics. Chisholm did not win the Democratic nomination, but she did win an impressive 10 percent of the votes within the party.
After her presidential campaign, Chisholm continued to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives for another decade. As a member of the Black Caucus, she was able to watch black representation in the Congress grow and to welcome other black female congresswomen. In 1982, she announced her retirement from Congress.
Life After Politics
From 1983 to 1987 Chisholm served as Purington Professor at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she taught politics and women's studies. In 1985 she was the visiting scholar at Spelman College, and in 1987 she retired from teaching altogether. Chisholm continued to be involved in politics by cofounding the National Political Congress of Black Women in 1984. She also worked for the presidential campaigns of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988.
Although Chisholm broke ground as the nation's first black congresswoman and the first black presidential candidate, she has said she would rather be remembered for continuing throughout her life to fight for rights for women and African Americans.
*Content adapted from: http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ch-Co/Chisholm-Shirley.html
*To watch the 1969 NBC News Special Documentary, The Irrepressible Shirley Chisholm, click here.
Seed of Action
Today, write a letter of appreciation to a "seedy" civil servant like Shirley Chisholm who has taken a stand for women's rights. Perhaps, if you haven't already, you might write a letter of thanks to Senator Hillary Clinton for taking up Chisholm's torch and running as the first female presidential candidate nominated by a major party, and for all that she has done on behalf of women and girls throughout her decades of service to this country. Her mailing address is as follows:
Post Office Box 5256
New York, NY 10185-5256
Have another feminist civl servant in mind? If she or he is currently serving as an elected official at any level of government, you can find his/her mailing address through this website: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
The International Women's Strike: A Day Without a Woman is this Wednesday. Even if you can't stay home from work, there are ways you can support the strike. Click the banner image below to learn how.
Share your thank you letter and/or a pic of you mailing it on social media with the tag #seedstoscatter, and we'll share with the world!
And above all, scatter with love!