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It’s Her Story: Shirley Chisholm

Authored by Patrice Aggs
Illustrated by Markia Jenai

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This is an uplifting graphic novel written by Patrice Aggs and illustrated by Markia Jenai. The story charts the biography of this inspirational congresswoman from childhood to her death in 2005. Her journey started in Barbados and very early on Shirley, who would later run for President of the United States of America, showed the strength and tenacity that would win her a seat in Congress. Her first major test was bracing the cold weather of New York, in comparison to the beautiful Barbados sun!

The test of cold weather would pale into insignificance as Shirley embarked first upon her education then her career in politics. As a Black woman during the 1940s and 1950s in America, Shirley was confronted with blatant racism, sexism, discrimination and prejudice. Starting her career as a teacher, Shirley was determined to make a difference for the young people and the communities she served. The rules she set herself were challenged the more she got into politics and people tried to force her to follow a different set of expectations:

    1. Don’t ask questions
    2. Talk quietly
    3. Let others lead.

Needless to say, these rules would prove broken by Shirley who described herself as ‘unbought and unbossed’ which would remain her slogan for the entirety of her career. Particularly when people tried to bring her down with slander and manipulation.

Shirley Chisholm story truly is one of bravery, determination and courage in the face of the greatest forms of adversity. There is also a real ringing of hope both in terms of Shirley as a hugely successful woman of colour and in terms of the support and rallying from good people who saw in her a chance to make a positive change. This book has to be in Key Stage Two book corners as an uplifting example of overcoming adversity and the power of honesty, integrity and hard work. Seventy years later, when Black people and women are still struggling to overcome prejudice and discrimination, this serves as a beacon to guide young people through the storm.