About the Chisholm Center

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.

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.

The Chisholm Center has joined with the State University of New York Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI) to address racial inequities within SUNY and wider society, specifically assessing the racial equity gaps across SUNY's curriculum, as well as to establish a pathway to the construction of racial equity within the curriculum.



The mission of the Shirley A. Chisholm Center for Equity Studies is to examine the persistent present-day cultural, political, and societal inequities that derive from the legacies of colonialism and Black enslavement. The center conducts solutions-oriented, interdisciplinary research, offers community-based educational programming, and informs better policy to drive social progress.


The Chisholm Center will serve as a catalyst for a more just society by understanding and revealing the roots, workings, and impacts of structural racism and systemic inequities.

Research Areas:

  • Slavery’s impact on contemporary life
  • Structural, interpersonal, and institutional racism
  • Education access and educational policy and reform
  • Disparities in health and health care
  • Income and wealth inequality
  • Arts and cultural expression
  • Political empowerment and leadership

Core Values

Commitment to the following guides the center:

  • Partnerships with universities, think tanks, policymakers, business leaders, community members and organizations to increase access to educational, political, and economic opportunities to the historically marginalized.
  • Collaborations with institutions of higher education, public, and private entities to connect scholarly resources to the broader community to exchange knowledge and resources.
  • High-quality educational programs and opportunities for the intellectual, cultural and personal growth of all members of the community.
  • Enhancing the cultural and creative life of those living and working in Brooklyn, New York, and the broader community to create opportunities for artistic development and educational excellence.