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Shirley Chisholm

  • Laws will not eliminate prejudice from the hearts of human beings. But that is no reason to allow prejudice to continue to be enshrined in our laws to perpetuate injustice through inaction.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • in Congressional Record ()
  • As there were no black Founding Fathers, there were no founding mothers — a great pity on both counts.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • in Congressional Record ()
  • Political organizations are formed to keep the powerful in power.

  • ... politics as it is practiced in the United States ... is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gilded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own, their votes.

  • Of my two 'handicaps,' being female put many more obstacles in my path than being black.

  • Tremendous amounts of talent are being lost to our society just because that talent wears a skirt.

  • Some members of Congress are among the best actors in the world.

  • Congress seems drugged and inert most of the time. ... Its idea of meeting a problem is to hold hearings or, in extreme cases, to appoint a commission.

  • Some fine men are in Congress, too few, trying to do a responsible job. But they are surrounded and almost neutralized by a greater number whose instinct is to make a deal before they make a decision.

  • As things are now, no one can tell to whom members of Congress are responsible, except that it does not often appear to be to the people. Everyone else is represented in Washington by a rich and powerful lobby, it seems. But there is no lobby for the people.

  • 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.

  • When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.

  • Most Americans have never seen the ignorance, degradation, hunger, sickness, and futility in which many other Americans live. Until a problem reaches their doorsteps, they're not going to understand. They won't become involved in economic or political change until something brings the seriousness of the situation home to them.

  • 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 ...

  • The minorities have been confined to the city by a moat of bigotry.

  • Racism is so universal in this country, so widespread and deep-seated, that it is invisible because it is so normal.

  • Racism keeps people who are being managed from finding out the truth through contact with each other.

  • The difference between de jure and de facto segregation is the difference between open, forthright bigotry and the shamefaced kind that works through unwritten agreements between real estate dealers, school officials, and local politicians.

  • In the end, antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing — antihumanism.

  • There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter. Anyone who takes that role must pay a price.

  • That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black, and a woman proves, I would think, that our society is not yet either just or free.

  • Rhetoric never won a revolution yet.

  • I don't measure America by its achievement, but by its potential.

  • As a black person I am no stranger to prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far more often discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • in Nancy Hicks, The Honorable Shirley Chisholm ()
  • Women are not inherently passive or peaceful; we're not inherently anything but human.

  • We have never seen health as a right. It has been conceived as a privilege, available only to those who can afford it. This is the real reason the American health care system is in such a scandalous state.

  • There is a good deal of evidence that the United States is moving to the right, and that the main force behind the movement is a resurgence, in a new form, of racial prejudice.

  • I love America not for what she is, but for what she can become.

  • Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World ()
  • I have met far more discrimination as a woman than being black in the field of politics.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • in Brian Lanker, I Dream a World ()
  • Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting.

    • Shirley Chisholm
  • Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

    • Shirley Chisholm
  • That's what's wrong with the country. There are too many 'good soldiers' accepting too many bad decisions.

    • Shirley Chisholm
  • We have been so patient and loyal ... and what has it gotten us? We want our full share now.

    • Shirley Chisholm
  • The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: 'It's a girl.'

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • O: The Oprah Magazine ()
  • Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased.

    • Shirley Chisholm,
    • speech in the U.S. House of Representatives ()
  • [On being asked what Negroes want now:] My God, what do we want? What does any human being want? Take away an accident of pigmentation, of a thin layer of our outer skin, and there is no difference between me and anyone else. All we want is for that trivial difference to make no difference.

  • If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.

    • Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm, U.S. member of Congress, educator, activist, writer

(1924 - 2005)

Full name: Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm