(Photo Credit: BET.com)
The public's cynicism towards our political system is certainly justified, but those who believe one person can't make a difference in Washington probably haven't heard of Shirley Chisholm.
The 1960s were a turbulent time for American politics. Civil rights shot to the forefront of social issues as assassinations of both black and white leaders became commonplace. That didn't stop Shirley Chisholm from trying to become the first black woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
"At present, our country needs women's idealism and determination perhaps more in politics than anywhere else." -Shirley Chisholm
Her statements on the importance of more universal participation in government still ring true today. Black women especially continue to be severely underrepresented in the political system. According to Huffingtonpost.com, Black women make up 7.4% of the general population but only 3.4% of Congress.
Leaders like Chisholm, who advocated for supporting the country's more vulnerable populations by running against the established order, paved the way for future generations to take action in their own lives. In the last two presidential elections, Black women have surpassed voting numbers for all other race and gender groups.
Today is the birthday of one of my biggest inspirations, Shirley Chisholm, the 1st black woman to serve in Congress pic.twitter.com/39N4zSP0GN— Donna Edwards (@DonnaFEdwards) November 30, 2015
The lasting legacy of Chisholm persists in the political power now held by Black voters, who as an established group of political participants have made headway on today's top social issues like wage discrimination and police brutality.