January 25, 1972
Shirley Chisholm at podium waving and smiling, clapping crowd.
I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the
Presidency of the United States of America. (Clapping.)
I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud.”
I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a
woman, and I am equally proud of that.” Clapping.
I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special
interests.” (Clapping. cheers).
I stand here now without endorsements from many big name politicians or
celebrities or any other kind of prop. I do not intend to offer to you the tired
and glib clichés, which for too long have been an accepted part of our political
life. I am the candidate of the people of America. And my presence before you
now symbolizes a new era in American political history.
I have always earnestly believed in the great potential of America. Our
constitutional democracy will soon celebrate its 200th anniversary, effective
testimony, to the longevity to our cherished constitution and its unique bill of
rights, which continues to give to the world an inspirational message of freedom
We Americans are a dynamic people…”(This portion is missing from footage).
Fellow Americans, we have looked in vain to the Nixon administration for the
courage, the spirit, the character and the words to lift us. To bring out the
best in us, to rekindle in each of us our faith in the American dream. Yet all
we have received in return is just another smooth exercise in political
manipulation, deceit and deception, callousness and indifference to our
individual problems and a disgusting playing of devices politics. Pinning the
young against the old, labor against management, north against south, black
against white. (Clapping.) The abiding concern of this administration has been
one of political expediency, rather than the needs of man’s nature.
The president has broken his promises to us, and has therefore lost his claim to
our trust and confidence in him. I cannot believe that this administration would
ever have been elected four years ago, if we had known then what we know today.
But we are entering a new era, in which we must, as Americans, must demand
stature and size in our leadership — leadership, which is fresh, leadership,
which is open, and leadership, which is receptive to the problems of all
I have faith in the American people. I believe that we are smart enough to
correct our mistakes. I believe that we are intelligent enough to recognize the
talent, energy, and dedication, which all American including women and
minorities have to offer. I know from my travels to the cities and small towns
of America that we have a vast potential, which can and must be put to
constructive use in getting this great nation together. I know that millions of
Americans, from all walks of life agree with me that leadership does not mean
putting the ear to the ground, to follow public opinion, but to have the vision
of what is necessary and the courage to make it possible, building a strong and
just society, which in its diversity and is noble in its quality of life.
I stand before you today, to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American
people will not vote for qualified candidates, simply because he is not right or
because she is not a male. I do not believe that in 1972, the great majority of
Americans will continue to harbor such narrow and petty prejudice.
I am convinced that the American people are in a mood to disc the politics and
political personalities of the past.
I believe that they will show in 1972, and thereafter, that they intend to make
individual judgments on the merits of a particular candidate, based on that
candidates intelligence, character, physical ability, competence, integrity, and
honesty.” Clapping. “It is, I feel the duty of responsible leaders in this
country to encourage and maximize, not to dismiss and minimize such judgment.”
Americans all over are demanding a new sensibility, a new philosophy of
government from Washington. Instead of sending spies to snoop on participants on
Earth Day, I would welcome the efforts of concerned citizens of all ages to stop
the abuse of our environment. Instead of watching a football game on television,
while young people beg for the attention of their President, concerning our
actions abroad, I would encourage them to speak out, organize for peaceful
change, and vote in November. Instead of blocking efforts to control huge
amounts of money given political candidates by the rich and the powerful, I
would provide certain limits on such amounts and encourage all people of this
nation to contribute small sums to the candidates of their choice. Instead of
calculating political cost of this or that policy, and of weighing in favors of
this or that group, depending on whether that group voted for me in 1968, I
would remind all Americans at this hour of the words of Abraham Lincoln, ‘A
house divided, cannot stand.
“We Americans are all fellow countrymen. One day confronting the judgment of
history in our country. We are all God’s children and a bit of each of us is as
precious as the will of the most powerful general or corporate millionaire. Our
will can create a new America in 1972, one where there is freedom from violence
and war, at home and abroad, where there is freedom from poverty and
discrimination, where there exists at least a feeling, that we are making
progress and assuring for everyone medical care, employment, and decent housing.
Where we more decisively clean up our streets, our water, and our air. Where we
work together, black and white, to rebuild our neighborhoods and to make our
cities quiet, attractive, and efficient and fundamentally where we live in the
confidence that every man and every woman in America has at long last the
opportunity to become all that he was created of being, such as his ability.
In conclusion, all of you who share this vision, from NY to CA, from WI to FL,
are brothers and sisters on the road to national unity and a new America.”
Clapping. “Those of you who were locked outside of the convention hall in 1968,
those of you who can now vote for the first time, those of you who agree with me
that the institutions of this country belong to all of the people who inhabit
it. Those of you who have been neglected, left out, ignored, forgotten, or
shunned aside for whatever reason, give me your help at this hour. Join me in an
effort to reshape our society and regain control of our destiny as we go down
the Chisholm Trail for 1972. (Clapping. Cheering).