Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed


Remember Shirley Chisholm? She died this year, on New Years Day 2005, aged 81. In 1972 she was a two-term congresswoman from Brooklyn, the first black woman to sit in the House. So she’s black, and she’s a woman. Strike one, strike two. She’s rather homely, bucktoothed, with a wart on her chin. She is the daughter of West Indian parents. You want more? She has a speech impediment. So what does she do? She decides to run for president …

What does she have going for her? Only three things that I can see. She is smart and articulate. She speaks her mind and doesn’t compromise. And she has more charisma than every presidential nominee from both parties since 1972 put together. She fights it right down to the convention floor, where Willie Brown robs her of her California delegates by basically throwing a tantrum. “I’m black, and you owe me!” (Whining little asshole. I never liked that weasel when I lived in San Francisco.) Black politicians don’t know how to deal with her. Will they throw in their lot with that ultra-loser McGovern, simply because he’s “electable” (HAH!!) and stands for pretty much the same things she does? After all, she’s a woman. Black men are no better than white on that issue, maybe worse.

This is a short documentary and limits itself to the ’72 campaign, the Chisholm Trail, but it does a real good job on that. It was interesting to see all those faces from the ‘70s, and to see them now, explaining their choices. Ron Dellums supported her right to the last minutes, then basically stabbed her in the back … for which she refuses to blame him. This is worth your time.