Shirley Chisholm

Champion of Black Feminist Power Politics

By Anastasia C. Curwood

472 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 22 halftones, 3 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7117-8
    Published: January 2023
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-8315-7
    Published: April 2024
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7118-5
    Published: December 2022
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4831-4
    Published: December 2022

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Shaking up New York and national politics by becoming the first African American congresswoman and, later, the first Black major-party presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm left an indelible mark as an "unbought and unbossed" firebrand and a leader in politics for meaningful change. Chisholm spent her formative years moving between Barbados and Brooklyn, and the development of her political orientation did not follow the standard narratives of the civil rights or feminist establishments. Rather, Chisholm arrived at her Black feminism on her own path, making signature contributions to U.S. politics as an inventor and practitioner of Black feminist power—the vantage point centering Black girls and women in the movement that sought to transform political power into a broadly democratic force.

Anastasia C. Curwood interweaves Chisholm's public image, political commitments, and private experiences to create a definitive account of a consequential life. In so doing, Curwood suggests new truths for understanding the social movements of Chisholm's time and the opportunities she forged for herself through multicultural, multigenerational, and cross-gender coalition building.

About the Author

Anastasia C. Curwood is professor of history and co-founder of the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies at the University of Kentucky. She is the author of Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages between the Two World Wars.
For more information about Anastasia C. Curwood, visit the Author Page.


"A well-rounded portrait of the late politician, who, half a century ago, helped set the tone for contemporary Black and feminist politics . . . Curwood deftly reveals Chisholm’s complexities and sometimes secretive nature as well as her tenacity in political struggles . . . A model political biography that all modern activists should read."—Kirkus Reviews (*STARRED* review)

"A vivid biographical assessment of a remarkable woman, Anastasia Curwood reminds us of Chisholm’s legacy & makes her absence on the current political scene seem even more profound.”—Foreword Reviews (*STARRED* review)

"Accessible and enlightening, this is a well-rounded portrait of a pioneering politician."—Publishers Weekly

"Readers will be left with a greater understanding of [Chisholm's] impact on the U.S. political landscape and the personal and political toll of her efforts; they’ll also develop a deeper understanding of the work to close inequality gaps that remains."—Library Journal

"Curwood has written a definitive and absorbing biography of Shirley Chisholm that details her life and work, as well as her unparalleled influence on feminism, politics and activism."—Karla Strand, Ms. Magazine

"An indelible portrait of the path-breaking politician . . . . [A] stirring biography."—Christian Science Monitor