June 29, 2010

shirley-chisholm_4b67c.jpg
(Shirley Chisholm - just slightly ahead of her time)


When people run through lists of Presidential candidates, the ones who tried but didn't quite get there, the name Shirley Chisholm doesn't really ring any bells with people who weren't around for the '72 elections.

During a time of protest and great upheavals (the Womens Movement got it's big kick off in 1970 if you'll remember), the idea of a black woman running for President was probably a little bit much for mainstream America to deal with. It was, if anything an opportunity to kick a few doors down and to free up the dialogue and, even though I would like to think Shirley Chisholm was able to do that, the reality was it didn't, least not for a while.

But I suspect not a lot of people have heard Shirley Chisholm (she died in 2005 after leaving the political scene some years earlier) or had a chance to hear where she stood on issues. This clip comes from a PBS program called "Thirty Minutes" from April 28, 1972. The questions are pointed and Chisholm doesn't flinch.

Shirley Chisholm: “We double talk. You know, we don’t carry out what we really mean. And this is why I think the American people have come to distrust their politicians, have come to distrust their leaders. Because we say one thing and we do something completely different. We have to restructure our foreign policy in such a way that our dollars, our monies that we work very hard for in this country does not continue to perpetuate countries that suppress liberties of other people.”

She came around at a time when all things were possible, despite established machines to the contrary. Had she made it or at least got in a position to implement change, it's a tantalizing thought to consider what might have been.

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