“You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” ― Shirley Chisholm


Our Mission

The Shirley A. Chisholm Center for Equity Studies, named in honor of the Brooklyn native who in 1968 became the first African-American woman to win a seat in Congress, examines and uncovers the roots, workings, and impacts of structural racism and systemic inequities in our communities today.

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Our Work

Based at SUNY Empire’s Brooklyn campus, the center examines the legacy of slavery and colonialism, addresses ongoing racial and economic disparities, and develops policy solutions to work toward a more just and equitable society. Through an examination of the connections between historical racism and today’s structural inequities, the Chisholm Center aims to create opportunities for underserved communities, and to achieve equity through education.

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Who Was Shirley Chisholm?

In 1964, Chisholm was elected to the New York state legislature, and was the second African–American woman to serve in Albany. She spent four years as an assembly member before winning the historical Congressional seat that would lead to her representing her constituents and neighbors in New York’s 12th district for seven consecutive terms. Her campaign motto of “unbought and unbossed” became the title of her autobiography. The phrase is often used as a tribute to Chisholm’s spirit and determination.  In 1972, Chisholm again made history when she declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. She campaigned across the country, and became known as the “candidate for the people.”

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