Lead like Shirley Chisholm

What do you define as leadership? Someone who’s able to move massive amounts of people? Someone who’s able to lead movements like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandi? Maybe you think of someone who kept a country from dividing and stood with moral courage like Abraham Lincoln. Or maybe you think of someone like a boss or someone holding political office within your community.

But sometimes leaders lead and don’t see the change they seek. They don’t get to cross that river Jordan like Moses who had to stay back as others went before him. Having the vision to see the other side, just not getting to see the other side. Those are the forgotten leaders that we are indebted to, the ones who forge ahead despite not seeing change. The ones who believe that they are on the right side of history, so they push through despite the nay sayers. They are the ones who make the path possible for social change. The ones who may not get the glory while they are living, but are seen in great awe  and respect for the work they did to bring about that change. Today one of those we owe a great deal of gratitude toward is Shirley Chisholm. A little bit of history on her I grabbed this morning on Morning Joe…

“Shirley Chisholm the first African American woman elected to congress talking about her historic 1972 Presidential campaign. Critics said she wouldn’t last six weeks, she ended up taking 152 delegates to the Democratic convention. Chisholm served in the House from 1969 to 1983. Where she was a fierce advocate for women whom she continues to inspire with lawmakers like Kamala Harris and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez paying tribute to her. Chisolm died in 2005 at the age of 80. Next year the city of New York will erect a statue in her honor near where she grew up in Brooklyn, NY.”¹

shirley_chisholmWhen Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to be elected to congress, she made the idea a little less radical for other African American women. When she ran for the Presidency in 1972, before I was born, she simultaneously made both women and African Americans running for Presidency an idea that no longer appeared new. And in 2008, despite what you think of their politics, the top two picks for the Democratic ticket were Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Today, we need more diverse leaders. We need different opinions. I live in a very homogenous city in Broken Arrow, OK. It’s a great city, but I miss the diversity I experienced in cities like Nashville and Dallas. I miss those other voices and other opinions. It also makes me sad that living in a state that is mostly Republican, that those whose views are different do not feel as though they have a voice in this state. Many don’t even vote. They figure why bother. I also feel that there may be a whole lot more of the opposing opinions that live here, but because they feel overwhelmed they don’t vote and they don’t speak up.

When we are not able to benefit from different cultures, different beliefs, different ethnicities we lose out. We lose out on perspectives. We lose out on ideas. Shirley Chisholm was brave enough to run for House and later the Presidency. She pushed beyond the fear of what others might say. She may not have gained the Presidency, but she inspired other African Americans to push despite. We all may have different political opinions, but no matter yours, we are made better by the Shirley Chisholms of the world.

Join us in an amazing journey of transformation SUBSCRIBE HERE, because we need leaders like you! 

Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl


  1. Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe Podcast February 1st, 2019


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