Nov. 7, 2017 was a night of historic firsts (see story “Many Firsts in 2017 Election“). However, 49 years-ago Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to Congress. She soundly defeated her Republican opponent to become a Representative for Brooklyn, NY.
Nov. 9, 1968
Americans of color will have a bigger representation at Capitol Hill when the 91st Congress starts business next January.
In addition to the six incumbents, voters this year elected three more Congressmen.
For the first time in the nation’s history a colored congresswoman will join the ranks of those respectable men and women who make up the Legislative Branch of the American government.
No newcomer to politics, the ‘first’ lady of Congress is New York’s Shirley Chisholm.
She won election Tuesday over her Republican opponent, James Farmer, by a vote of 35,239 to 13,615 in the 12th Congressional District, Brooklyn.
Farmer, former head of CORE, was the first major civil rights leader to seek a political office. He lost to Mrs. Chisholm by a heavy margin in the predominantly colored Puerto Rican section of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Tuesday’s victory marks a second similar event for the ‘first’ congresswoman. Four years ago, she made history when she won election to the State Assembly.
Her record as assemblywoman during the past four years, coupled with her popularity among her people in Brooklyn was the main factor in her success.
Unlike her opponent, Mrs. Chisholm was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn.
At 43, the former school teacher had come a long way from a ‘first’ in New York’s State Assembly (after 19 years of active politics) to a ‘first’ in Congress.
Joining her as newest members of Congress in January will be Louis Stokes of Cleveland, and William L. Clay of St. Louis, Mo., both Democrats.
Heading the list of six incumbents who won re-election is Harlem’s Adam Clayton Powell.
Victory also came to incumbent Congressman Charles Diggs, of Detroit’s 13th District and Augustus Hawkins, of Los Angeles’ 21st District, both Democrats.
Three incumbent congressmen who won re-election had token opposition. They were Robert Nix, Philadelphia’s Second District; John Conyers, Detroit’s First District and William L. Dawson, Chicago’s First District, all Democrats.