Statue of Shirley Chisholm is 'Long Overdue,' Says NYC's First Lady
The first Black Congresswoman in the U.S. to be honored in her hometown of Brooklyn. And Viola Davis is set to play Chisholm in an upcoming biopic.
Late politician Shirley Chisholm, a trailblazer who worked to improve the lives of others, became the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968. Fifty years after she made history, New York City announced it would honor Chisholm with a statue in her hometown.
As part of the She Built NYC initiative to expand representation of women in public art and monuments, which is led by First Lady Chirlane McCray, the statue will be located in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. The selected artist will be announced in early 2019.
"A statue to commemorate the great Shirley Chisholm is long overdue," McCray said. "But it's also coming during a year when thousands of women from different backgrounds embraced their power and ran for office."
McCray said Chisholm was "a Black woman who carved a path for herself in public life when women, especially women of color, were expected to sit down and stay quiet."
Beginning in 2020, visitors walking into Prospect Park will be greeted by the powerful figure of Shirley Chisholm, a Black woman who carved a path for herself in public life when women, especially women of color, were expected to sit down and stay quiet. Happy Birthday Shirley! pic.twitter.com/v8ebX0c4T9
— Chirlane McCray (@NYCFirstLady) November 30, 2018
Chisholm was also the first woman and African American to seek the Democratic nomination for president, in 1972. Her campaign slogan, "Unbought and Unbossed," reflected her unwillingness to stay silent on matters she believed were important.
"I have no intention of just sitting quietly and observing," Chisholm once said.
It's been 50 years since Chisholm broke the glass ceiling in Congress, yet, the 116th Congress is only 23 percent women, only up 19 percent in the 115th Congress. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up almost 51 percent of the country's population, but hold less than a quarter of the seats in Congress.
And, Latinos, Asians and Blacks — the largest minority ethnic groups — are significantly under-represented in Congress.
Academy Award-winner Viola Davis said on Instagram on Saturday that she would play Chisholm in an upcoming biopic. Davis will also serve as a producer for the film.
"We're thrilled to announce our first feature film with Amazon Studios!" Davis wrote.
She also included a quote by Chisholm, who died in 2005 at age 80: "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."
"Love you, Ms. Chisholm. Unbought and unbossed," Davis said.
"The Fighting Shirley Chisholm," will be directed by Maggie Betts, according to Deadline.
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Charles Johnson lost his wife post childbirth and he's fighting to make sure no more Black women die from poor post-natal care.
Charles Johnson IV posted on Instagram Thursday morning that the final deadline in getting Congress to pass the
Preventing Maternal Deaths Act is next week.
Johnson, a Los Angeles resident, has been fighting for Black mothers like his wife, Kira. She died in 2016 in a hospital that left her bleeding internally for 10 hours without a CT scan after giving birth to their second child. Medical professionals had told Johnson, who was pleading for help for his wife, that she "wasn't a priority" for them.
Johnson and his mother, TV judge Glenda Hatchett, are advocating for Black women, as they are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as their white counterparts, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Johnson and his two sons are also plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the hospital and several doctors alleging wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Kira Johnson died of "hemorrhagic shock due to acute hemoperitoneum," which the lawsuit said doctors failed to properly diagnose and treat.
Black women including, Serena Williams, have put the alarming statistics into perspective. Williams demanded a CT scan after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, when she felt short of breath. A nurse had told her she was confused because of her pain medication, but Williams was persistent and it ended up saving her life.
New study shows women of color have a 70 percent higher rate of major birth problems, even when they suffer the same health ailments as white women.
Johnson formed 4Kira4Moms, a nonprofit dedicated to honor Kira's life and to prevent other families from experiencing unnecessary birth-related deaths.
Johnson and Hatchett, recently participated in a congressional briefing on maternal mortality hosted by the Reproductive Justice Initiative.
"They did nothing to correct it in a timely manner," Hatchett said.
"This is a woman who would be alive today had it not been for, what we say in the complaint, medical negligence. One minute we're at the hospital celebrating [the couple's] second son's birth, just a very joyous time and then hours later, she's gone…"
His testimony to Congress in September was followed by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) who read of the jarring statistics that Black women are 243% more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications than white women.
Black women are 243% more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications than white women — this father brought his heartbreaking story to Congress to change that pic.twitter.com/1DJu91avb6
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 28, 2018
The hospital's statement released TWO YEARS AFTER Kira's death:
"Kira Johnson's death was a tragedy. Her husband, Charles S. Johnson IV, and his mother, Judge Glenda Hatchett, are demonstrating important leadership in raising awareness of preventable maternal deaths. Cedars-Sinai strongly agrees with Judge Hatchett and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that no mother should die giving birth."
"Based on our findings, we make any changes that are needed so that we can continue to provide the highest quality care to our patients. This includes reviewing hospital procedures as well as the competency of healthcare providers. Among other changes, we have updated processes for post-anesthesia care and have increased simulation training for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals related to care of hospitalized obstetric patients."
Charles Johnson shares the tragic story of his wife Kira's death hours after giving birth. www.youtube.com
Reader Question: Do you know any women who have experienced discrimination in medical care post child birth?
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She was one of the last survivors and few first-hand witnesses of the Tulsa Race Massacre that led to the destruction of Black Wall Street.