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Hudson Valley Press

February 26th, 2014

Shirley Chisholm’s Legacy Recognized at Black History Celebration

Shirley Chisholm stamp.

MT VERNON - Community leaders and postal officials celebrated Black History Month at City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 11, by honoring the legacy of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. The gala 10:00 a.m. event included a special unveiling of an oversized 24" X 36" enlargement of the new Shirley Chisholm Forever commemorative postage stamp.

Among the ceremony participants were Mayor Ernest D. Davis, Former Congressman Edolphus Towns, City Council President Roberta Apuzzo, Mount Vernon NAACP Chapter President Mattie Little, Unity Baptist Tabernacle Church Pastor Edward A. Mulraine, Acting Postmaster Robert McCarthy, former Postmaster Pat Mazzone, USPS Westchester District Marketing Manager Debra Jones, Cynthia Miller from Congressman Engel’s office, vocalist Frederick Myers, and the Mount Vernon High School Royal Nights musical group.

Pioneering Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm is the 37th honoree in the Postal Service’s long running Black Heritage Stamp Series. After serving in the New York State Assembly, Ms. Chisholm was elected to Congress in 1968, becoming the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. Chisholm also scored another historic first in 1972 when she declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President — the first African-American to seek the nomination of a major political party. She was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus.

Ms. Chisholm, the daughter of immigrants, fought to lift the wages for the poor, including a law to extend the minimum wage to domestic workers. She believed in educational opportunities for all and helped pass Title IX ("Title Nine"), the law that says public schools must treat boys and girls equally. She was also one of the leading advocates for a federal holiday to honor Martin Luther King Jr.

Chisholm served in Congress until 1983. After retiring from politics, she taught at Mount Holyoke College, wrote, and lectured. She continued to speak out for the rights of women, people of color, and the poor, fighting for legislation to support daycare centers and provide federal aid for education. She was a co-founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW). Shirley Chisholm died on Jan. 1, 2005.

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