As described in Shirley Chisholm: A biography, Chisholm leaves a legacy of being the first black woman to be elected in Congress as well the first black woman and African American to seek the nomination for the United States president from a major political party (Brownmiller, 1970).  Other details of the book are as described below. 

Chisholm’s achievements came as a result of great mentorship from her maternal grandmother who was also her role model. Chisholm was born to a family of immigrant parents Charles and Ruby Seale St. Hill, a factory worker and a seamstress from Guyana and Barbados respectively.  Her parents sent her to stay with her grandmother who taught her to be courageous if she wants to succeed in life (Brownmiller, 1970).

In her pursuit of political office, Chisholm faced two major challenges that include gender discrimination and lack of enough finances.  Discrimination accompanied most of her political career but was rampant in her quest for the Democratic Party presidential nomination in 1972.  For instance, Chisholm was blocked from taking part in televised debates and was only allowed to make a single speech after she took legal action.  Secondly, unlike her male counterparts, Chisholm`s campaign was under-financed due to the lack of enough sponsors who believed in her quest. The leader may have succeeded to be elected in Congress but due to these predicaments, she never acquired a democratic nomination ticket for the presidency (Brownmiller, 1970).

The leader reflected Kouzes and Posner’s leadership challenge by first setting an example for her fellow women and African Americans. Chisholm also inspired a shared vision by believing that she could make a difference that symbolizes a new era in the American political system.  In addition, she challenged the prevailing political process by seeking opportunities that could change the system.  In her political campaigns, she also built a spirited team and fostered collaboration.  Lastly, Chisholm celebrated the accomplishments of her team as she got elected in Congress and won primaries in various states.  The achievements of Chisholm were largely due to her conformity to the above leadership practices.

In conclusion, the struggles for black Americans and particularly the place of women in the society is what influenced Chisholm to seek for elective office.  As a result, Chisholm paved the way for both women of color and African Americans to always strive for the best and be part of the change that they desire. Chisholm is also humble and expresses her humility by taking on tasks that benefit her constituents, who were mostly underprivileged minorities.


Brownmiller, S. (1970). Shirley Chisholm: A biography. New York, NY: Doubleday.

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