These inspirational Shirley Chisholm quotes will give you the courage to always fight for what you believe in.
Shirley Anita Chisholm was an American politician, educator, and author who is best known for becoming the first African-American congresswoman in 1968. Chisholm represented the New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms.
In 1972, Chisholm made history again when she ran for the Democratic nomination, becoming the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for president of the United States from one of the two major political parties.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 30, 1924, Chisholm graduated from Brooklyn College in 1946 and began her career as a teacher.
She also earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in early childhood education and worked as a consultant to the New York City Division of Day Care.
Throughout her tenure in Congress, Chisholm was a champion of minority education and employment opportunities. She died on January 1, 2005 at the age of 85, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
In honor of the woman who dared to be a catalyst of change, below is our collection of inspirational, wise, and powerful Shirley Chisholm quotes.
Don’t forget to also read these historic Ida B. Wells quotes on battling racism and sexism.
Shirley Chisholm quotes on standing up for your beliefs
1. ”You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.” – Shirley Chisholm
2. ”If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Shirley Chisholm
3. ”Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.” – Shirley Chisholm
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of quotes about service about the power of serving others.
4. ”We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves.” – Shirley Chisholm
5. ”It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact. The warmth, gentleness, and compassion that are part of the female stereo- type are positive human values, values that are becoming more and more important as the values of our world begin to shatter and fall from our grasp.” – Shirley Chisholm
6. ”Unless we start to fight and defeat the enemies in our own country, poverty and racism, and make our talk of equality and opportunity ring true, we are exposed in the eyes of the world as hypocrites when we talk about making people free.” – Shirley Chisholm
7. ”I am, and always will be a catalyst for change.” – Shirley Chisholm
8. ”Be as bold as the first man or [woman] to eat an oyster.” – Shirley Chisholm
9. ”I ran for the presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo… to give a voice to the people the major candidates were ignoring. What I hope most is that now there will be others who will feel themselves as capable of running for high political office as any wealthy, good-looking white male.” – Shirley Chisholm
10. ”Don’t listen to those who say YOU CAN’T. Listen to the voice inside yourself that says, I CAN.” – Shirley Chisholm
Powerful and inspirational Shirley Chisholm quotes
11. “That’s what’s wrong with the country. There are too many ‘good soldiers’ accepting too many bad decisions.” – Shirley Chisholm
12. ”Defeat should not be the source of discouragement, but a stimulus to keep plotting.” – Shirley Chisholm
13. ”Women must become revolutionary. This cannot be evolution but revolution.” – Shirley Chisholm
14. ”Health is a human right, not a privilege to be purchased.” – Shirley Chisholm
15. ”Any time things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.” – Shirley Chisholm
16. ”At present, our country needs women’s idealism and determination, perhaps more in politics than anywhere else.”- Shirley Chisholm
17. ”I have never cared too much what people say. What I am interested in is what they do.” – Shirley Chisholm
18. “You can’t argue with someone whose premises are completely different from yours, where there is not even an inch of common ground.” – Shirley Chisholm
19. ”When morality comes up against profit, it is seldom that profit loses.” – Shirley Chisholm
20. ”I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself.” – Shirley Chisholm
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of Black History quotes celebrating the contributions of African Americans.
Thought-provoking Shirley Chisholm quotes
21. ”I love America not for what she is, but for what she can become.” – Shirley Chisholm
22. ”When I die, I want to be remembered as a woman who lived in the twentieth century and who dared to be a catalyst of change. I don’t want to be remembered as the first black woman who went to Congress. And I don’t even want to be remembered as the first woman who happened to be black to make a bid for the Presidency I want to be remembered as a woman who fought for change in the twentieth century. That’s what I want.” – Shirley Chisholm
If you’re enjoying these quotes, you’ll love our collection of black women quotes on self-love, life, and success.
23. ”I don’t measure America by its achievement but by its potential.” – Shirley Chisholm
24. “In this country, everybody is supposed to be able to run for President, but that has never really been true.” – Shirley Chisholm
25. ”There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter. Anyone who takes that role must pay a price.” – Shirley Chisholm
26. ”As I see it, the top administrators of colleges and universities must take an active role in dealing with racism on campus today. I’ve seen campuses festering with racism, and some administrators closing their eyes to it. They just hope it will go away, but it doesn’t. It gets worse.” – Shirley Chisholm
27. ”You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Shirley Chisholm
28. ”A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.” – Shirley Chisholm
29. ”An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.” – Shirley Chisholm
30. ”I’m looking to no man walking this earth for approval of what I’m doing.” – Shirley Chisholm
More Shirley Chisholm quotes and sayings
31. “Racism keeps people who are being managed from finding out the truth through contact with each other.” – Shirley Chisholm
32. “‘Liberty and justice for all’ were beautiful words, but the ugly fact was that liberty and justice were only for white males.” – Shirley Chisholm
33. “We have never seen health as a right. It has been conceived as a privilege, available only to those who can afford it. This is the real reason the American health care system is in such a scandalous state.” – Shirley Chisholm
34. “Political organizations are formed to keep the powerful in power.” – Shirley Chisholm
35. “Some fine men are in Congress, too few, trying to do a responsible job.” – Shirley Chisholm
36. “We have been so patient and loyal … and what has it gotten us? We want our full share now.” – Shirley Chisholm
37. “Rhetoric never won a revolution yet.” – Shirley Chisholm
38. “I’d like them to say that Shirley Chisholm had guts. That’s how I’d like to be remembered.” – Shirley Chisholm
39. “Be as bold as the first man or woman to eat an oyster.” – Shirley Chisholm
40. “I had met far more discrimination because I am a woman than because I am black.” – Shirley Chisholm
Which of these Shirley Chisholm quotes was your favorite?
Although being the first black woman to serve in Congress would be a significant enough accomplishment for a lifetime, it wasn’t good enough for Shirley Chisholm. She had bigger ambitions and went on to become the first black woman to seek the nation’s highest office.
Chisholm changed minds and attitudes around the nation. She will always be remembered as a fighter for human rights and dignity. Hopefully, the above quotes will inspire you to always fight for what you believe in.
Did you enjoy these Shirley Chisholm quotes? Which of the quotes was your favorite? Tell us in the comment section below.
March 17, 2022 6:00 AM EST