Welcome to the Speak Up, Speak Out! by Tonya Bolden Blog Tour!
To celebrate Black History Month and the release of Speak Up, Speak Out!: The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm by Tonya Bolden (January 4th), 5 blogs across the web are featuring posts from the book and author, as well as 5 chances to win!
by Stacey Abrams, Politician, Lawyer, and Voting Rights Activist
History happens every day. If we’re lucky, however, we can trace the moment of origin, travel along the pathways of decisions made and discover how the world and real lives changed. For me, that is Shirley Chisholm’s story.
I grew up in southern Mississippi, the daughter of a librarian and a shipyard worker. My parents cultivated a life for me and my five siblings that urged us to imagine opportunities beyond the limits of our environment. My mom and dad grew up during segregation in the Deep South, being told that because of their Blackness, they were inferior to their white peers. For my mother, being a girl was another challenge. Mom and Dad told us about the hardships of poverty and the meanness of laws that sent them to broken schools. They also told us about their time in the civil rights movement, when they marched and picketed and helped others register to vote. Even though they were young and still in school, my parents and their friends were social justice warriors. My parents made certain we knew the tales of civil rights leaders and the lesser-known foot soldiers—those who fought oppression but rarely received any recognition.
As much as my parents ensured we understood the terrible history of segregation, they also taught us to be present in our pursuit of justice. We volunteered in soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and juvenile detention centers. My parents took us with them to vote for every election. We discussed politics in our family as a way to learn about our responsibilities as citizens. Yet, until I was in high school, I had never heard of Shirley Chisholm. (In my parents’ defense, I may not have been paying attention.)
My first real encounter with the gutsy gentlelady from New York came when I watched a program about the 1972 presidential election. The retrospective detailed the chaotic race for the White House. Most of the attention focused on the two Georges: George McGovern, the eventual Democratic nominee, and George Wallace, the avowed white supremacist. Congresswoman Chisholm’s historic candidacy received very little attention by comparison. In my high school, teachers made no mention of her being the first Black woman from a major political party to run for president of the United States.
How we imagine ourselves in the world often depends on what we know of our past. I could recount those who’d sought to divide our nation during the Civil War and the newly freed Black men elected to Congress during Reconstruction. But I had not learned that Shirley Chisholm was America’s first Black woman in Congress. Our nation’s history as I knew it was incomplete. And so was I.
Representative Shirley Chisholm did not become president of the United States. She didn’t have to do so to change the world. By daring to run—first for Congress and then for the presidency—she gifted us a story about possibility, about resilience, and about destiny. Her story became woven in the history of our nation, and her legacy has spurred the dreams of those who tried what had not been done before.
“The strength of Bolden’s skill as a researcher is evident; chapter by chapter, she provides succinct but critical context around the motivations and movements of Chisholm’s political career. An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer.”
– Kirkus Reviews
“This lively, detailed look at Chisholm’s personal and political life shines in its portrayal of a strong woman who never backed down…”
“Tonya Bolden brings Shirley Chisholm’s vibrant spirit to life…an engaging and readable style.”
– School Library Connection
From award-winning author Tonya Bolden comes a biography of the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Black woman to run for president with a major political party: Shirley Chisholm.
Before there was Barack Obama, before there was Kamala Harris, there was Fighting Shirley Chisholm. A daughter of Barbadian immigrants, Chisholm developed her political chops in Brooklyn in the 1950s and went on to become the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This “pepper pot,” as she was known, was not afraid to speak up for what she thought was right. While fighting for a better life for her constituents in New York’s 12th Congressional District, Chisholm routinely fought against sexism and racism in her own life and defied the norms of the time. As the first Black woman in the House and the first Black woman to seek the presidential nomination from a major political party, Shirley Chisholm laid the groundwork for those who would come after her.
Extensively researched and reviewed by experts, this inspiring biography traces Chisholm’s journey from her childhood in a small flat in Brooklyn where she read books with her sisters to Brooklyn College where she got her first taste of politics. Readers will cheer Chisholm on to victory from the campaign trail to the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, where she fought for fair wages, equal rights, and an end to the Vietnam War. And while the presidential campaign trail in 1972 did not end in victory, Shirley Chisholm shows us how you can change a country when you speak up and speak out.
Tonya Bolden has authored, edited and co-authored more than 40 books. Her work has garnered numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Honor, the James Madison Book Award, the NCSS Carter G. Woodson Honor, the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, D.C.’s Nonfiction Award, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, the Virginia Library Association Jefferson Cup Award and the Cleveland Public Library Sugarman Award. Lauded for her skilled storytelling, impeccable research, and lively text, Tonya lives in New York City.
- One (1) winner will receive a hardcover of Speak Up, Speak Out! by Tonya Bolden
- US and Canada only
- Ends 3/6 at 11:59 pm ET
- Check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!
p.s. Related posts:
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.