Speak Up, Speak Out! The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm

National Geographic. Jan. 2022. 144p. Tr $26.90. ISBN 9781426372377.
Gr 6-10–Shirley Chisholm is largely known for being the first Black candidate for a major-party nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic party’s nomination. This slim but thorough biography of the Brooklyn native proves that she was making a difference in the lives of others long before and long after. Raised by working-class immigrant parents from Barbados, Chisholm was taught to fight for what was best—for herself, her family, and her community. That education led her to successes as a teacher, a New York State Assemblywoman, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Never afraid to take a position that would cost her allies, she unapologetically advocated for the needs of the mostly Black Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Bolden uses her masterful historian skills to narrate the details of Chisholm’s life and career, presenting the political and social context for the politician’s accomplishments. The wide margins, short chapters, and attention-grabbing chapter headers and openings make this title accessible and engaging. The author uses quotes from family, mentors, news coverage, and more to give readers a tangible sense of Chisholm’s confident, resolute, and defiant personality. Bolden adeptly presents the unique struggle that Chisholm had as a woman and a Black person fighting for a historic win. She also doesn’t hesitate to present her subject’s faults. Chisholm didn’t win the presidency in 1972, but during her 14 years in Congress, she had a significant impact on programs that give federal aid to women, children, the elderly, and veterans.
VERDICT Purchase this engaging biography to fill too-wide gaps in American history.

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