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Archived: Statue of Shirley Chisholm is 'Long Overdue,' Says NYC's First Lady

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.”

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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