She Was the First!

By The Horn Book

“Unbought and Unbossed”: Shirley Chisholm’s 1968 campaign slogan, still relevant today. Russell-Brown (Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, rev. 11/14) engagingly presents the life of Chisholm, born in Brooklyn in 1924. Unable to support their children, Shirley’s parents took Shirley and her sisters to Barbados to live with their grandmother, “whose house was stocked with love, rules, and chores.” Shirley excelled academically and loved living among the Black Barbadians. She and her younger sisters returned home during the Great Depression, and her predominantly white school demoted her from sixth to fourth grade because she knew so little U.S. history. With a tutor’s help, Shirley soon took an interest in America’s political system and attended Brooklyn College, where she became an award-winning debater. A schoolteacher and community activist, Chisholm became a New York State assemblywoman, then the first Black Congresswoman, steadfastly following her grandmother’s mantra: “always…speak the truth.” Most notably, Chisholm was the first African American to run for president, in 1972. Velasquez’s vibrant watercolor illustrations capture Chisholm’s determination and passion for improving life for Americans with the fewest advantages. The informative and useful back matter includes an afterword, source notes, and photos.