First but not Last: Shirley Chisholm’s Legacy Continues Today

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. She was also the first Black woman to compete for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination and the first Black presidential candidate for either party.

from NARAL’s “World Changing Women” note cards

Chisholm proposed pro-choice legislation in Congress and encouraged the New York State legislature to repeal restrictive abortion laws. In 1969, Chisholm was named the honorary co-president of NARAL. She believed that access to abortion and reproductive healthcare should be treated as a vital part of healthcare for all, regardless of race, class, marital status, or age.

Chisholm passed away in 2005. But her incredible impact and legacy continue, most recently with these members of the freshman class of the 117th Congress:

Rep. Cori Bush (MO-01) is the first Black woman elected to Congress from Missouri. As an activist, healthcare provider, and community leader, she spent years on the front lines fighting for all Missourians to make their own decisions about their lives, bodies, and futures. Read more about her here.

Rep. Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) is the first Black person to represent Washington State in the House of Representatives. She is also one of the first Korean-American women ever elected to Congress. Strickland is an advocate for making reproductive healthcare safe, affordable, and available to every body. Learn more about her here.

Rep. Nikema Williams (GA-05) has devoted her career to fighting to protect and expand reproductive freedom. As a State Senator, she was the first Black woman to chair the Democratic Party of Georgia. You can learn more about her here.