1970 August 10

Rep. Shirley Chisholm Speaks Out For the Equal Rights Amendment


Rep. Shirley Chisholm, an African-American Democrat from Brooklyn, addressed the U.S. House of Representatives on this day to voice her support for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), an amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee equal treatment for women. In 1972, the amendment finally passed both houses of Congress and went to the state legislatures for ratification. Because it failed to receive the requisite number of state ratifications (38) before the final deadline mandated by Congress, it was not adopted.

Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress (November 5, 1968) and the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States (January 25, 1972). The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) had been drafted and introduced by feminist and suffragist leader Alice Paul on July 21, 1923.

Chisholm: “As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.”

Read the Speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/shirleychisholmequalrights.htm

Read her autobiography: Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (1970)

Read: Mary Frances Berry, Why ERA Failed: Politics, Women’s Rights, and the Amending Process of the Constitution (1988)

Learn more about women who ran for President: https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/president/president.html

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