Though 1972 presidential candidate Shirley Chisholm was indeed the first black congresswoman and received key support from the Black Democratic Caucus and other black politicians during the campaign, in her own telling it was her identity and experience as a woman and background in education that shaped her politics. In this Oakland Post article, she suggests that women’s proximity to “day-to-day” issues such as family and education would mean an actual reorganization in political priorities when women are elected into office.
Like many other black citizens and politicians, Chisholm’s hint that she might have run as an Independent pointed to widespread discontent with both Democrats and Republicans in the black community. Her emphasis on coalition-building, which she explained to an “old-timer” as “a pulling together of different forces in this society today who are discontented or disillusioned about some facet of government as it effects those people,” demonstrated the way the alliance-building tactics of black grassroots political groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense filtered up into high-powered politics in the early 1970s.