Monday, January 16, 2023
The 19th features an interview of historian Anastasia Curwood on her new biography of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress. The article explains why a "cradle to grave" biography about Chisholm is so important:
Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer: the first Black woman elected to Congress and the first Black candidate and the first woman candidate for a major-party nomination for president of the United States. Still, despite her tremendous influence on American politics, biographies of Chisholm have been immensely hard to come across.
With her recently released book, “Shirley Chisholm: Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics,” Anastasia C. Curwood, a professor and interim chair of the Department of History at the University of Kentucky, hopes to alleviate this gap. A cradle-to-grave biography as Curwood calls it, the book gives insight into who Chisholm was as a person and how Chisolm’s many lived experiences and multiple identities shaped who she was. In the book, Curwood coins the term “Black Feminist Power Politics” to describe how Chisholm’s identity as a Black woman born to immigrant parents in a working-class family allowed her to empathize with the lived experiences of marginalized individuals and informed her politics.