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Chisholm Book 'Unbought and Unbossed' is Re-released

James Wright | 2/24/2010, 9:58 p.m.

Cutline-An updated version of the late Shirley Chisholm€s book €Unbought and Unbossed€ was released in January.

By James Wright - WI Staff Writer

A book that was penned by one of the Black pioneers in the U.S. Congress has been re-released after its initial publishing four decades ago.

The expanded 40th Anniversary edition of "Unbought and Unbossed" by Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, hit bookshelves on Jan. 20. Those involved with the project say that it is needed now more than ever.

"This is a good time for this book to come out," said Scott Simpson, the editor of the expanded version of the book.

€People need to know more about who Shirley Chisholm was and that she ran for president in 1972."

Simpson was a guest at a forum on "Unbought and Unbossed" along with Shola Lynch, who produced the 2005 documentary, "Chisholm '72 Unbought and Unbossed" at Busboys and Poets in Northwest. Lynch also wrote the book€s afterword.

A gathering of 25 listened to Simpson and Lynch talk about Chisholm and what it meant to work on a project of this magnitude.

A staffer on Capitol Hill, Simpson, 25, said that he had not heard of Chisholm until a 2005 Public Broadcasting Station promotional about an upcoming documentary that chronicled her life.

"Even though I am politically aware, I did not know anything about her," he said.

"What she had done was not taught in my history classes and there were no books about her."

Chisholm was elected to the House in 1968 after serving four years as a New York State Assemblywoman representing Brooklyn, particularly the poverty-ridden Bedford Stuyvesant area. At the time of her election, there were only nine Blacks in the U.S. House and one U.S. senator. Including Chisholm, there were 10 women in the body of 435 representatives.

Chisholm wrote the book, "Unbought and Unbossed" and it was published in 1970. It served as a launch pad for her historic run for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972.

In that run, Chisholm became the first woman as well as the first African American to seek the Democratic Party nomination. She ran in most of the major primaries and won 152 delegates at the convention.

She endorsed Sen. George McGovern, the nominee who went on to lose badly to President Richard Nixon in the general election. Chisholm€s campaign became a model for the presidential campaigns of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984 and €88, Carol Moseley Braun in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.

Chisholm retired from the House in 1982 and became a professor at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.

In 1984, when former Vice President Walter Mondale refused to consider a Black woman as a running mate, Chisholm and a number of politically active Black women throughout the country formed what is now known as the National Congress of Black Women. President Clinton briefly considered her to be the United States Ambassador to Jamaica but she declined. Chisholm died Jan 1, 2005.

The foreword of the book was written by Donna Brazile, the campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman ticket in 2000 who worked as the chief of staff for D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Brazile is a contributor for CNN, a columnist for Roll Call Newspaper and a contributing writer for Ms. Magazine.

Lynch€s documentary won the 2006 Peabody Award. Initially, Lynch said she was a slightly embarrassed by Chisholm. The documentarian said she was very young when Chisholm ran for president.

€When I found out about her through a book written by Paula Giddings, I wanted to know why she would run for president when she knew she was going to lose,€ Lynch, 40 said.

A former college athlete, Lynch said, that winning and losing are concepts that she knows well. However, she later learned that Chisholm was a catalyst for change.

€She was saying to Black women and young people that you can do anything that you put your mind to. She was also saying to some that there will be a Black or a woman president, someday.€

Simpson said that in order to get the rights to re-release the book he had to conduct a tough search.

€She had no children so I managed, with a lot of effort, to contact her sister, Muriel Forde, in Barbados for the rights to publish the book,€ he said. €I called a few times and got no answer. When I was about to give up I called and Forde answered.€

Simpson said that he sent Forde proposals through FedEx finally she allowed him to re-release the book. He enjoyed the process because Chisholm was such a good writer.

€I did not do much because you€d have to top her and that would not be easy.€

The book touched on Chisholm€s early life and political career up to 1970. She also wrote about how the U.S. Congress worked, Black political leadership, abortion, the war in Vietnam and included a message for youth.

E. Faye Williams, the national chair of the National Congress of Black Women and Johnnie Scott Rice, co-chair and founder of the organization€s D.C. chapter attended the event. The organization spearheaded the portrait of Chisholm at the U.S. Capitol as well as the bust of 19th century abolitionist and feminist Sojourner Truth.

While Rice appreciates the efforts of Simpson and Lynch, she pointed out that she had a personal connection to the late congresswoman.

€Shirley was my friend,€ Rice said.

€We keep her name and honor her legacy. Even though she did not have any children, she had me.€

Lynch said that she was impressed by Chisholm€s manner, which was different from her so-called public persona of being an angry Black woman.

€She was a lady,€ Lynch said.

€She was poised, graceful and modest. She just handled whatever she had to deal with.€