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Honoring Shirley Chisholm

Rep. Charles B. Rangel

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Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the life and legacy of the Honorable Shirley Chisholm, who was the first African-American woman elected to Congress (1969-83). She served with me as part of New York's congressional delegation and as a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

My dear colleague from Brooklyn was also the first African American to run for President of the United States when she declared her candidacy in 1972. Challenging all accepted practices of politics, this very junior Member of the House, an African American woman at that, by declaring for the Presidency, single-handedly raised the profile and aspirations of all those newly empowered Blacks and women of that era.

In addition to her inspiration as a pioneer of political achievement by minorities, Chisholm was a champion for improving the quality of life in inner city communities, and a tireless advocate for protecting the rights of women and children throughout the United States.

A historic figure in American politics who broke glass ceilings and set examples for future generations of leaders, Shirley Chisholm passed away at age 80 on January 1, 2005.

I introduced legislation today to posthumously award a gold medal to my former colleague and trailblazing friend, in marking this week's 40th Anniversary of the establishment of the Congressional Black Caucus, and in commemoration of National Women's History in March.

Above all of her firsts, Shirley wanted most to be remembered as a `woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst for change.' I believe her legacy continues to inspire all of us to work for progress, and urge my colleagues to join me in honoring the life of Shirley Chisholm.