Palm Coast is blessed with over 140 miles of walking and bike trails. Every morning I walk on the Pine Lakes Pkwy trail and a number of months ago this monument to Shirley Chisholm appeared on the trail. I’m old enough to remember what an awesome lady she was. I would guess most folks younger than I have probably never heard of her. She was an African American lady who despite all odds became a United States Congress woman, a champion of equal rights and an inspiration to a generation.
Shirley was born in 1924 to parents who had immigrated to America. Her parents both worked and instilled that work ethic in their children. Shirley graduated from Brooklyn Girls High School in 1942. She graduated cum laude from Brooklyn College in 1946. Shirley ran for and won a seat in 1964 on the New York State Legislature.
The year was 1968 and the United States had experienced assassinations of some of our greatest leaders and the Vietnam War was at its peak. Shirley was the first black African American woman elected to Congress in 1968 as and served seven terms as a United States Congress woman. She was known in Congress as fighting Shirley for her championing of racial and gender equality, the plight of the poor, and her efforts to end the Vietnam War. During her time in Congress, she introduced fifty pieces of legislation.
Shirley ran for the Democratic Parties nomination for President of the United States. Unfortunately, racial prejudice and a lack of funding stymied her efforts to win her party’s nomination. She still managed to garner 10% of the delegates in the Democratic Primary.
Shirley moved to Palm Coast Florida in 1991. She wrote her autobiography which was also her personal motto “Unbought and Unbossed”. Shirley wanted her legacy and to be ” I want to be remembered as a woman…who dared to be a catalyst of change. Shirley passed away in 2005 but in 2015 was awarded posthumously the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. She was an inspiration to many and an amazing woman who accomplished a great deal.
While taking a picture of her monument on the Pine Lakes Pkwy I had the pleasure to meet her god-daughter Maria Bosley. She was gracious enough to take my picture standing behind the monument. I want to thank her, and it was my pleasure to meet her.