Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Anita Chisholm (née St. Hill)  was born to Charles and Ruby St. Hill on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York.   Her parents had immigrated from the Caribbean: her father, originally from British Guyana, settled in New York City by way of Cuba and her mother hailed from Barbados.  She was the oldest of four daughters.  Her father worked as a factory worker and an assistant in a bakery while her mother was employed as seamstress and a domestic worker.  Although they worked very hard, they had very little resources.  Like many Blacks suffering racial discrimination in the United States, they experienced great economic instability.  

In 1929, the St. Hills, in wanting the best for their daughters, sent Shirley and her sisters to live in Barbados with their maternal grandmother, Ms. Emaline Seale.  The island country, still greatly influenced by British colonialism, had a rigorous education system and Seale ensured that her granddaughters benefitted from it.  Chisholm wrote in her autobiography, Unbought and Unbossed, “Years later I would know what an important gift my parents had given me by seeing to it that I had my early education in the strict, traditional, British-style schools of Barbados. If I speak and write easily now, that early education is the main reason.”  Chisholm would identify as Barbadian-American because of her life and ancestry connected with both Barbados and the United States.

For greater enlightenment...

For further enlightenment:

Books by Shirley Chisholm

Unbought and Unbossed

The Good Fight


Other readings

“See the Five Artist Proposals for Shirley Chisholm’s Prospect Park Monument” by Leslie Geary