I grew up in awe of three African American women – Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, and Yvonne Braithwaite Burke. These women – lawyers, educators, and politicians – made me dream of public service. At a young age, they made me want to attend law school and leap into politics! These were women who broke racial barriers becoming the first African American women elected to Congress from their states. From voting rights to women’s rights, they fought for racial equality and challenged traditional roles and power structures. After running unsuccessfully for President in 1972, Shirley Chisholm said, “I ran for the Presidency, despite hopeless odds, to demonstrate the sheer will and refusal to accept the status quo.”
Eventually I grew up. I came to realize that politics was not as noble or honorable as my childhood sheroes were. Though my passion for politics waned, my desire to work in public service remained. I revere these women. Though nothing I do would ever remotely compare to the impact these giants had on the lives of African Americans, women, our political system, and our nation. It is their grit, the sheer will to refuse to accept the status quo that continues to motivate me and inspire me to keep pressing forward doing this work.
Social Justice Center