Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A TRUE FASHION ICON: Happy Birthday Representative Mrs. Shirley Anita (St. Hill) Chisholm (D-NY)

“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. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.” - Shirley Chisholm
Kadir Nelson, Oil on canvas, (2008)
Collection of U.S. House of Representatives
While conducting research at the US Capitol, I got lost looking for Dr. Barbara Wolanin’s office (the Capitol Curator) and ran into Representative James E. Clyburn (D - SC), but I wasn’t half as stunned as I was by Kadir Nelson’s portrait of Shirley Chisholm. He captured her essence with the bold, lively colors and active composition that definitely set her apart from the rest of the Capitol’s stoic and monotone art collection, and justly so.

New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was a history maker who stunned the political establishment when she ran for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination in 1972. My reaction was to stop dead in my tracks and take a moment to contemplate just how much Chisholm’s bold actions shattered the glass ceiling to shards for Hillary Clinton (She really should have acknowledged Mrs. Chisholm--just saying) and for me as I meandered through the halls to Dr. Wolanin’s office to conduct my thesis research. I walked down the same Capitol corridors as Shirley Chisholm!
Portrait Unveiling, March 3, 2009

Ebony Magazine, February 1969, Collection of U.S. House of Representatives."  
On a much (much) more superficial note, Mrs. Chisholm is one of my greatest fashion influences. Just look at her wardrobe: her mixture of, color texture, pattern, accessories… Need I say more? She, my Great Granny, and my Aunt Edith have triple-handedly chosen my collection of spectacles. I didn’t feel so bad when I realized that I probably wouldn’t ever be able to wear contacts again. The more that I examine the fashion of African American women and history the more I realize that my admiration may not be so superficial. There is definitely something to be said|researched|written about fashion and its connection to black women’s intellectual traditions.

1 comment:

  1. thank you so much for visiting my blog and grabbing a button. you put a big smile on my face. you must have a beautiful heart. xoxo roxy


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