Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Barbara Lee, and Members of the CBC held a portrait unveiling ceremony this afternoon, March 3, for the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Congresswoman Chisholm's swearing in as a Member of the House. Below are the remarks of the Speaker as prepared:
“Thank you, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. Congresswoman Clarke represents a large portion of Shirley Chisholm's former district, but she also represents many of Congresswoman Chisholm's priorities: care for our children and our seniors, affordable housing and health care, and opportunity for all Americans.
“I would also like to acknowledge Congresswoman Barbara Lee. She has said that her life in public service was inspired by Shirley Chisholm - she now chairs the Congressional Black Caucus that Shirley Chisholm helped found.
“When Shirley Chisholm joined our colleagues Chairman John Conyers and Chairman Charlie Rangel, among others, to found the CBC, it had just 13 members. In that year, 1969, she imagined the organization that would grow to 42 members today, and serve as the conscience of the Congress. It stands as tribute to Congresswoman Chisholm's vision of a Congress that represents all Americans.
“Less than a year before she died, Congresswoman Chisholm was asked how she wanted to be remembered. She said then, ‘I want history to remember me not just as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.'
“Today, as we welcome this beautiful portrait to the Capitol grounds, we ensure that Shirley Chisholm will indeed long be remembered as a catalyst for change in America. A brave pioneer, Shirley Chisholm was unwilling to settle for the status quo.
“With this portrait, we make certain that when the story is told about some of the most critical struggles in our nation's history - the unending fight for the ideal of equality that is both our nation's heritage and our hope - Shirley Chisholm's name is remembered.