Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
University of Kentucky historian Curwood (Stormy Weather) delivers a comprehensive and admiring biography of U.S. congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (1924--2005). Born into a family of Barbadian immigrants in Brooklyn, N.Y., Chisholm was "opinionated, self-assured, and confident" as a young child. After graduating from Brooklyn College, she launched a career in early education, and later claimed that the discrimination she faced while interviewing for a teaching job at an affluent private school in a predominantly white neighborhood helped sparked her interest in political organizing. She became the first African American congresswoman in 1968 and the first to run for president in 1972. Despite receiving numerous credible death threats during the Democratic primary, Chisholm had no Secret Service protection and struggled to be taken seriously by party officials. Curwood also spotlights Chisholm's coalition building with antiwar, Native American, and LGBTQ activists; her controversial visit to see her primary opponent, segregationist George Wallace, in the hospital after he was shot; her advocacy for "raising and expanding minimum wage protections," passing the Equal Rights Amendment, and boycotting South Africa's apartheid government; and the backlash sparked by her support for Ed Koch and other white politicians over Black candidates. Accessible and enlightening, this is a well-rounded portrait of a pioneering politician. (Jan.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
In her latest work, Curwood (African American and Africana studies, Univ. of Kentucky; Stormy Weather: Middle-Class African American Marriages Between the Two World Wars) takes on firebrand Shirley Chisholm (1924--2005), the first Black woman to serve in Congress, and later, the first Black major-party presidential candidate. Before becoming known as the "people's politician," Chisholm, the daughter of immigrants, spent her childhood in Barbados and Brooklyn, before being catapulted onto the national stage through her work in the Democratic party. This thorough biography of Chisholm is a welcome addition to the fields of political science and women's studies, particularly due to Chisholm's involvement in bolstering the Black feminist movement in the mid-20th century. Readers will be left with a greater understanding of her impact on the U.S. political landscape and the personal and political toll of her efforts; they'll also develop a deeper understanding of the work to close inequality gaps that remains. VERDICT Strongly recommended for social science students and public collections where similar titles circulate well.--Mattie Cook
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A well-rounded portrait of the late politician, who, half a century ago, helped set the tone for contemporary Black and feminist politics. The child of Black Caribbean immigrants--"her very person," writes historian Curwood, "was at the intersection of race, gender, ethnic, and class identities"--Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) decided early in life on a career in politics. She first attained influence in New York and then captured a formerly gerrymandered district in Brooklyn to enter the House of Representatives. There, she served for seven terms, where she defended issues of interest not just to her constituency, but also to an increasingly restive national community. She was prescient in many ways. Early on, writes the author, she worked to diversify the Democratic Party, pressing for a Black vice presidential candidate, a Native American secretary of the interior, and so forth--a vision realized only with the Biden administration half a century later. Chisholm fought what she considered the restrictiveness of terms such as women's liberation and Black Power, which "created reactivity and a lack of critical thinking about how the movements could connect, especially through and among Black women"--again, a vision realized in the Black Lives Matter movement and with the rise of successors such as Stacey Abrams. Curwood deftly reveals Chisholm's complexities and sometimes secretive nature as well as her tenacity in political struggles with Richard Nixon, who finally gave in to her campaign for raising the federal minimum wage in 1974; and Jimmy Carter, whom she faulted for calving off a separate Department of Education from the former Health, Education, and Welfare. As to welfare reform, Chisholm decried efforts to do away with federal aid to the needy even as she viewed welfare itself as "a symptom and direct cost of the corrosive effects of racism and sexism." With the growth of reactionary conservatism in the Reagan years, Chisholm left institutional politics--but by no means political work. A model political biography that all modern activists should read. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.