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She Was the First!: The Trailblazing Life of Shirley Chisholm

By Katheryn Russell-Brown
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

Hardcover: forthcoming

Even as a young child growing up in the 1920s, Shirley Chisholm was a leader. At the age of three, older children were already following her lead in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

As a student at Brooklyn College, Shirley could outtalk anyone who opposed her on the debate team. After graduating, she used her voice and leadership to fight for educational change. In community groups, she stood up for the rights of women and minorities. Her small stature and fiery determination often took people by surprise. But they listened.

In 1964, Shirley took her voice and leadership to politics, becoming the first Black woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and in 1968, the first Black woman elected to Congress. Then in 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the presidency of the United States. She pushed for laws that helped women, children, students, poor people, farm workers, Native people, and others who were often ignored. She fought for healthcare. She spoke up for military veterans. She spoke out against war.

Shirley Chisholm, a woman of many firsts, was an unforgettable political trailblazer, a candidate of the people and "catalyst of change" who opened the door for women in the political arena and for the first Black president of the United States.

About the Creators

Thumb_katheryn_russell-brown_resize Katheryn Russell-Brown - Author

Katheryn Russell-Brown is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida. She grew up in a family of music lovers, where jazz was an integral part of the sounds of daily life. A radio broadcast in 2008 about Liston inspired Russell-Brown to research the musician and eventually to write Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, her first picture book. Russell-Brown lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her family. Visit her online at krbrown.net.

Thumb_thumb Eric Velasquez

ERIC VELASQUEZ has illustrated more than thirty acclaimed picture books since 1997, when his first book was published. Among the awards he has received for his work are the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award, the Carter G. Woodson Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Velasquez also teaches book illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. He lives in Hartsdale, New York. You can find him online at ericvelasquez.com.