On Tuesday, President Barack Obama will honor the late Brooklyn lawmaker Shirley Chisholm with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She passed away in 2005 at the 80 but many New Yorkers still remember the feisty congresswoman who made history more than once. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
Shirley Chisholm spoke about the audacity of hope decades before Barack Obama. In 1972 she became the first black woman to run for the White House on a major party line. Now she's being honored posthumously with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the first African-American commander in chief.
William Howard was one of Chisholm's dearest friends and was treasurer for her presidential campaign.
"We thought that we could win and we took the chance to win. But the exciting portion of it we had less than $500,000 for the entire national race and and now $500,000 won't buy you two minutes," he recalled.
Born in Brooklyn to Caribbean parents, Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first black woman elected to Congress. She served seven terms and was a dominant political figure on Capitol Hill, but Howard fears her legacy is disappearing. Her loyal fans say few seem to remember that she was one of the founders of the West Indian American Day Parade.
"The fact that Chisholm sort of single handedly changed the world both in New York State and nationally, and it seems like nobody cares anymore," Howard noted.
Chisholm left congress in 1983 and died in 2005 at the age of 80. She was honored with a postage stamp last year and Howard keeps her memory alive with the Shirley Chisholm Cultural Institute for Children which provides scholarships.
Chisholm's niece will accept the Presidential Medal of Freedom and William Howard and other New Yorkers will be on hand to pay tribute to the Brooklyn icon.
"It will be a good day for America to know that Chisholm meant something to somebody in this world," Howard said.