tv Reel America Life and Career of Shirley Chisholm CSPAN September 9, 2020 9:23am-10:23am EDT
week nights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight, c-span cities tour takes you across the united states and through time as we explore our music history. some of the stops include the auditorium in nashville, the rock and roll hall of fame in cleveland and the birthplace of jazz music, new orleans. watch tonight, beginning at 8:00 eastern. enjoy american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span 3. the first african-american woman elected to congress, shirley chisholm of new york, became in 1972 the first woman and african-american to seek a major party's presidential nomination. up next on real america, a c-span american profile interview with the trailblazer from june of 1992. miss chisholm, who died in 2005, tells stories about the
struggles she faced in challenging congressional traditions and running for president and she discusses the 1992 presidential election in which ross perot emerged as a third-party candidate. >> shirley chisholm, how do you explain this incredible presidential year? >> i think i can explain in terms of the fact it's gotten to a point in american history now where the american people feel a kind of alienation and cynicism from traditional politics as we have known it when we are addressing the selection of a person to guide the ship of senate for a four-year period, i.e. the president. the people feel that not only democrats or republicans, that it's all part of the same old traditional package that there needs to be change in america and that if the change does not imme nate from the programs and
the agenda and plans of either one of the two parties americans have gotten to the point where they are willing to make that change outside of the regular two-party structure. >> how do you think we got to that point? i ask you because you've been involved in politics for a long time including your own run for president which we'll talk about later, but what is it that got us to that point? how is it that the parties got disconnected from the people. >> i think there's a combination of factors. first of all, the parties have not been able to be dispensers particularly on the local and state levels, particularly on those levels. many of the district local offices pertaining to parties are no longer in the communities across this nation. it seems to me that people became very disinterested as a result of a series of cumulative experiences in this country that
turned them off. korea, watergate, and then during the past 12 years, the fantastic national scandals that came about the s.n.l. situation and the issue pertaining to the ir iran-contra hearings. we've gotten to the point where they are not really holding on to following persons necessarily in either one of the two parties. they're saying enough is enough. we are willing now at this point in the year 1992 to really do something to bring about a change. they're fed up. as i traveled throughout the country in the farm communities, rural communities, inner city areas, you find people saying the same thing over and over again in different terms, we're fed up. don't ask me about issues. we want somebody that's going to bring about change.
that's the most important word now that you hear constantly. everybody is talking about change. >> you think that that -- is that your explanation for the appeal of ross perot? >> yes. i think it's part of the appeal. they see ross perot as a man who is a billionaire and who has kept very close to his own what he stands for and what his overall agenda is, but all they know is from the little bit that they have heard, is that he has been a man of action. he doesn't talk a whole lot. he gets things done. he's an activist, and the american people have become or are becoming sick and tired of the same political rhetoric every four years from both taerts parties only to find either one of the two parties finally lands in the white house that nothing really changes, and so they are willing this time out to really even follow a ross perot if they have to because
they know that their quality of life has deteriorated so badly that he couldn't possibly be any worse in terms of responding to their needs that either one of the two parties. strange phenomenon. >> you grew up in the democratic party. do you think it's going to survive this election cycle? >> the democratic party will survive, i'm quite sure, that it is going to survive. i also sense a growing, growing disenchantment with the parties to the extent that we may have in the very near future the establishment of a third party in this country, not based on race, however but based on class. when you go out into the farm communities it's amazing to hear the farmers tell you, mrs. chisholm, it's time for a third party. farmers have been loyal to the republican party or to the democratic party, these are not the people who usually go off in another direction and say we'll try this or that.
you can think of the farmers in this country of a radical nature, the term we desire to use, but they're fed up. the people being fed up. i sense this all over the country. i see the possibility of a third party evolving some time before the next six to eight years. i wouldn't be the least bit surprised. >> are americans ideological do you think, or do they just want things to get done? >> i don't think americans are basically ideological. i really believe that they want to get things done. they have seen their tax paying dollars being utilized for all kinds of aid, foreign aid programs abroad. they have been waiting on this peace dividend because it was promised to them when the war in the gulf was over we will use the money now to rebuild our cities and our towns and our villages, and all of it has been nothing but rhetoric. so now they are willing to say, we would like to get a change.
can you imagine people getting to the point where they don't know what candidate really stands for. this is -- what is his agenda? very educated people i've met, black and white, they have said to me straight, i don't care what mr. perot stands for, i'm not interested, he's a man of action. i think that's very dangerous when people in this country get to the point that they're not really interested in what the gentleman or the candidate's overall agenda is, because they're fed up. >> well let's go back. here we are the 20th anniversary of your own race for president in 1972. what thinking did you have when you announced for president and how was it received? >> in the first place, my announcement for president was made on the bases of two states in the union, the people told me, mrs. chisholm, again, it's
interesting, we've got to have some change in government. the time has come when we have to move in the direction of hoping that some day, somewhere, somehow, a black man or a woman can be president. a black person rather or a woman can be president. mrs. chisholm, you have a knowledge of the issues. you're bilingual. you articulate well. you're not a phony. you become a catalyst. that's what happened in the states of florida and minnesota and in 1972, florida had less than a 10% black population and minnesota only about a 3% black population. >> why those two states? >> i had been doing some public speaking and, you know, when i emerged in this country, everybody wanted to know who shirley chisholm was. who is this black woman that was
going to be the first person of her sex and race to enter the united states house of representatives and so i did a lot of speaking and they found out that i was fairly intelligent, fearless, had a knowledge of issues, not afraid, and they said, we desire that you begin to help bring about some change in america. i was afraid because i remember saying to them, you don't run for the presidency of this country on the basis of a moral feeling or commitment, you need money, i didn't ask for money, but amazingly within three months time the state of florida and the state of minnesota $10,000 each. then they could call my bluff. i got frightened when they called and said we raised money. i wanted to back out. i became afraid because i never believed that this would have happened, and it happened. then i had to make my mind up, and once i said no, you can't go
back, you threw out a kind of indirect challenge to them and you can't do this to people, so i made my mind up then that i was going to make the bid and all hell broke loose when i announced i was going to run for president. >> where did you announce and to whom? >> i announced at the concord street baptist church in brooklyn, new york. >> i stand before you today as a candidate for the democratic nomination for the presidency of the united states of america. >> in the midst of my congressional district, the 12th congressional district, and i announced to the people of the community and a number of friends that were aware of my announcement and came in from cities particularly along the eastern seaboard, the church was jammed, must have been close to 2,000 people, and the excitement
that was there. all of the enthusiasm that was there that a black woman for the first time in the united states of america had the audacity and the nerve to say she wanted to guide the ship of state. she wanted to be president. i could see the picture now. it was so exciting, but also beneath that excitement of the idea that persons other than a white male could and should be president, was part of the entire drama, why is it in the united states of america only white males could be president? here i was a two-fer, not only a woman, but a black person, therefore i was representing in a sense a black person and a female person. so my campaign in the beginning was swamped with a lot of black and women around me and that's how that got off the ground. believe you me, it was not easy
because after i made that announcement and i began now to visit different parts of the country, assemble a staff and everything, a real league of nations staff, hell broke loose. the reason hell broke loose, how dare you, have you forgotten that you are a woman? have you forgotten that you are black? and you want to be president? >> who is telling you these things? >> a lot of the black males at that time had very negative feelings about my announcement and a lot of the white males. it was the males. it was the males primarily that gave me the fit. i could remember so distinctly, so many incidents in which they felt that i was going in the wrong direction. >> can you think of one incident and name one name? it's 20 years, you know. >> i know it is 20 years, but i
know in terms of the black males, it was felt -- i don't want to call one because so many had the same feeling -- they really felt that if, indeed, a black person is going to make a bid for the presidency, it should not be a black woman. it should be a black male. this whole macho thing gets in the way. the black males were very annoyed with me because they were having this conference in gary, indiana, this black conference where mr. hatcher, the mayor, and they were coming together to find a black person to run for president. a name was mentioned. shirley chisholm had jumped the gun, and they felt that where does she think she's going? she didn't get our approval. the fact of the matter is, i was very cognizant of the fact that i would never get their approval because they would feel that i was crazy and needed to be placed in a straight jacket and
i went ahead on the basis of the fact that there were citizens in this country who raised the money for me to make the bid because these citizens felt that i had what it takes. i possessed leadership qualities, i had a clear understanding of the issues, i was a fearless woman, and i was intelligent and that was all. but the only thing that bothered a lot of folks, i was black and i was a woman. >> how did the women's groups that existed at the time respond to your candidacy? >> it was half and half. some of them responded positively and some did not, but an amazing thing happened to me that shocked me i guess for about three years, that the women in the southern part of the country respond to my candidacy more sincerely and truthfully than the women in the north. i can tell you stories of how women in the south, i remember particularly in the state of mississippi, where some of the local women, white women in the
state of mississippi, lost their jobs because the white male power structure kept reminding them that shirley chisholm was a black -- the way they would say it -- a black woman and these women were responding she's a black woman, but she has what it takes to bring about change. women lost their jobs. white women lost their jobs in parts of mississippi because they would not pull back from my candidacy. in florida when i landed in tallahassee, the airport was jammed with white and black women. in the north, i found in many instances that while the northern white women were saying, yes, shirley chisholm is a part of the feminist movement and been a leader, while they were giving me their dutiful rhetoric they were destroying my slates behind the scenes. they were not -- many were not truthful. even today, many of the white women in the north of my generation, not the younger people who don't really know me, yet very knowledgeable, people
ask me, well, you were the first woman who happened to be black to make a serious bid for the presidency in terms of going about the country and participating, not the first woman to run for president, but the first woman who did traditionally what you must do, not talking about some of the other women that had run for president, they didn't do what i did, it was just symbolic. i always say, yes, but i must always remind you that it was primarily the women in the south that put me across and so many women in new york get very angry but the truth is the truth. i was surprised, i was very, very surprised at what happened to me in new york. you must remember, too, that i did not make the bid for the presidency on the basis of new york. i made it on the basis of the floridians and the minnesotans who said go. >> how did your campaign play out? i know you campaigned in the primaries and did go to the
convention. take us through that process briefly. >> while i was campaigning, i campaigned in about 20 states i think it was, while i was campaigning three or four basic things that i met constantly. i met constantly the fact that black men and white men were very, very low in attendance at the rallies and the meetings where i was making appearances. that was very obvious to me. secondly, i ran into divisions within the particular cities in which i ran because the black people and the white people, particularly the feminists, were actually having disagreements because i'm a woman and the feminists felt this is our candidate, we brought her in, we sponsored her, and then the black people of the community, of course, i am black and so they felt she's one of us.
in many cases they didn't pay to bring me in, so there was -- they were trying to jump on the bandwagon and the white women, we brought her in and we can schedule her. many times i had to hide until they got together and settled their disagreements. i'll give you a funny story. i remember when i went into tallahassee, never forget this as long as i live, all these cars at the airport to meet me, there must have been about -- oh, my gosh, about 50 cars -- white women, black women, a few black men, few white men, it was an exciting time. they had all their placards and everything. then the plane landed and i got off the plane with my two aides, the black community and the white community rushed to meet me to put me in a waiting car to take me off to the rally and while they were taking me -- while the white community was taking me to their car, the black community, she is one of
us, she was a sister and they were arguing and i looked over, saw this tiny white man, i don't think he was 5 feet tall, he was standing and grinning and laughing and had on his hat, chisholm for president. he looked like he was in a world all his own. i went over to him, thank you so much. can i get into your car and you take me to the rally and they will stop fighting and fussing and he said, i don't have a number one car. i said does it move? he said yes. and he was so excited. got me into the car and off we went the moment i got in his car, all of the ruckus outbursts stopped and they all jumped into their cars trying now to follow that car. i'll never forget that as long as i live. i had met divisions cont stantly in that way. >> how many delegate votes did you get? >> i got 158 and a majority came
from the south. it was amazing that mississippi, i got -- if i can remember -- if it's not exactlily, it's near there, six of the votes from mississippi, i got about 20 something of louisianian votes, i got zm a large number -- i got more votes from the south. many of the persons indicated to me, shirley, go ahead, make the run. you have to catalyst a change in america and we have to have catalyst for change who are not shrinking violets and you're not, but you have to remember don't go to the south. if i did not go to the south i would have fallen completely flat on my face. >> did you get prime time television time at the podium at the convention? >> oh, yes. the ones who jumped up and screamed the loudest carried on, that delegation in the front, was george wallace's alabamian delegation. it was a strange thing. george wallace, when i was
campaigning, the year 13 of us were running, mcgovern, lindsey and a bunch of us, i remember when i was campaigning even in florida george wallace used to tell the folks, if you can't vote for me in the primary, don't vote for those pointy headed liberals, vote for shirley chisholm. >> once you -- >> people felt that i had entered into a pack with george wallace and because of that i lost some floridian votes but i also caused john lindsey to get out of the race in florida because i was beating john lindsey in the primary and john lindsey had a private meeting with me when i returned to new york and he was mayor at the time and he wanted me to get out. he said shirley, you're moving into my vote. did everything to get me to remove myself from the floridian primary and i remember telling john, john, my time has come. i've got to do this. i'll never forget that as long as i live. and it caused a kind of -- our friendship was never as great as it used to be after i refused to pull out of that race in
florida. but i must tell the world that it was the south that really took me across and many of my friends and many people in new york are angry because they want the world it feel that because i am a new yorker and i did come from new york, that they were the ones that pushed me out there. >> what was your mention message to the convention? >> my message for the convention basically was that the time has come when we in america can no longer be the complacent, passive recipients of whatever the politics of our nation may decree for us, but the time has come that we must look at other americans who have the attributes of leadership, who has the knowledge of the issues, to make a bid in an unkwivble manner to make a bid for the united states of america. i have decided to accept this challenge and here i am today, do as you will.
>> did you ever think you were on a short list to be george mcgovern's vice presidential candidate? >> oh, no. i never fooled myself. people must have thought, does shirley chisholm think she can be president? i'm fairly intelligent and smart enough to know i couldn't be president, but somebody has to be a catalyst for change when attempting to bring about change in america. >> we're 20 years in the anniversary of watergate and i wonder if during that year, you followed the news, of course, like everybody else, but as an inside politician sort, did you see or detect or wonder about any of these what later came to be known as dirty tricks occurred? >> oh, yes. because i was the victim of donald out in california. in fact, the people in california called me, donald, you know he had circulated some lecture -- >> donald segreti is whom?
>> one of the tricksters in the nixon campaign and his job was to derail the candidacies of the democrats who were running. he said some awful things about humphrey. look what he said about shirley chisholm. shirley chisholm had been released from a mental institution a few years ago and it is known that she rubbed feces on the walls of the rooms in her home. it -- i still -- the paper at home is yellow and crumbled. >> how did that -- what device did he use to get that information out? >> throwaways. >> leaflets. >> how do you know it was from donald? >> my friends in california sent me all the leaflets that was put out by donald at that time did not say he did it, but as a result of the watergate hearings
and everything it calm ome out did it. it was not only negative and untruthful things said about me, but about humphrey and others, the most sleazy types of remarks and my friends in california alerted me to it. later he apologized to all of us. >> personally? >> not personally, but by the media, the newspapers picked it up. >> do you think those tricks had any effect on your campaign? >> no, not really. >> there are other people -- what was jesse jackson doing at the time that you were running? what was his role in politics? >> jesse jackson never supported me for the presidency or anything although i supported him in '84 and '88, been campaigning for him, called on me so often to do a lot of things, but jesse jackson never really supported me. >> did you ask for his support? >> at that time it was early back in '72 and jesse jackson, of course, was aligned with the
black power boards that were meeting in gary, indiana, trying to stop me, part of that macho group that thought that a black woman who didn't consult the brothers have no business running for president and i understood that. i'm not holding it against him. i understood why. they're full of ma cheese mo. >> why did you run for congress? we're back to 1968. >> all right. a new district had been created in the borough of brooklyn giving an opportunity for the first time for the thousands of black and hispanic people that reside in brooklyn a chance to send one of their own to the united states house of representatives. now when that came out it was felt, once again, that a black man should get the seat, should run for the seat, and a group of representatives from community organizations held a series of interviews with about five of us who wanted the seat and then
they would vote after hearing the five of us on the basis of the issues, where we stood, our community work, and what have you. the overwhelming majority voted for me, although i was a woman. just sent an although i was a wf i your sived during those years i was moving out politically i could survive everything. i cried many nights because i was misinterpreted. she wants to take things away from the black man. all this crazy stuff but i didn't let it affect me that much because i understood the history. but it was very hurting many of the things they said about me,
many of the misunderstandings and many of the misinterpretations of my actions. they gave the feeling that i was some kind of horrible little monster. >> what did they say? >> they said she has no right to be running for congress. if a black person should be going to congress it should be a male. >> were there personal attacks in. >> there were personal attacks but not many. >> you ran against james farmer. was that in the general or primary? >> that was in the general election. he was republican. >> and he was what at that time? >> he was the republican. >> but he had a national reputation. >> of course he was the leader of course the congress on racial equality. here was james farmer, a bright
articulate man. he did not live in the district. why didn't he go up against adam clayton powell? he wanted that newly created seat in brooklyn. there are three things that helped me i think to eventually intervene. number one, he was not a resident of brooklyn. number two, he didn't realize how fluent in spanish i was. we had a pretty large spanish area. i would speak in english and then i would speak in spanish. and the first time james farmer heard me speak spanish i see his mouth opening right now. he just couldn't get over that.
and thirdly james got to the point where this machismo thing was so strong with men at the time. he had these musculyr black men giving out his literature and this kind of thing going on. and i began to feel badly and i always had a feeling. so i went down and 3.7 women to one man in the district. and went back to the headquarters and sent out a call to the women leaders in the district, black, white, italian, jewish, i said we have to go to war, that was it.
>> how much did you win? >> 3-1, mobilized. >> and then you go to washington. and tell the story of your committee assignment. >> then when i got to washington it was obviously seen freshman were seen and not heard. they placed me on an agriculture committee, subcommittee on rural villages. and the more i thought about it more angry i became for so many years the minority persons, they want to put the first representative on a rural forestry and villages and the more i thought about it i said this is madness. i spoke to some of the congressmen and they said you'll get your committee assignment eventually but you have to take your committee assignment. they said you are right but you shouldn't rock the boat. i spoke with brock adams.
brock adams i must say is the first white congressman that befriended me and looked out for me. and i'll never forget that. he was the secretary of transportation -- he's no longer in congress because of a series of misadventures that betook him. i told brock what i was going to do. i was going to put an amendment in to remove my name from the forestry and rural villages committee and ask for another assignment that has more relevancy to the district. brock said surely you can do it but, you know, you're committing political suicide before you get started. anyhow the word got out. shir shirly chizm is going to challenge the speaker. >> who was the speaker at that
time? >> john mccormick was the speaker at that time. so i felt now the word had gotten out, it had leaked out shirley chisholm was going to make a little raucous. i called the speaker. i didn't want them to think i called to upset the tradition of the united states house of representatives. so i called the speaker and told him mr. speaker, i want you to know tomorrow when the democratic caucus meet i'm going to ask for a change of committee assignment because it does not make sense for me to be sitting even for two years on a committee that has suitly no relevancy. even if they had put me on a committee that dealt with hot lunch programs or what have you, it might have made a little more sense, but forestry, what foolishness is this? so i said to the chair -- to the speaker -- i forgot i was
speaking to the speaker. i was so upset. i said, mr. speaker where, i'm going to have to do my thing. that was my favorite phrase at that time, and the speaker said to me you're going to have to do what, i'm going to have to do that which i have to do, and he said do you know you'll be beaten down, and i said i'll take the chance. i could tell by the tone of his voice. that day a lot of the men don't usually come to the democratic caucus but the caucus almost had 100% attendance. the balcony was filled with reporters. they had made a plan, and that plan was when shirley chisholm is recognized in the caucus four or five men who had seniority ever me and the speaker of the day would recognize me and they thought i would get scared. i found myself going up and
down, and i know they could see me because i'm highly visible. i decide to do one thing. i was so mad. i had some notes i was going to use. i put the notes in my seat i i walked down without the speaker calling right down to the well of the house and anything as a diversionary tactic and the old speaker hitting the gavel, order in this house. and the funniest thing happened. after i got down to the well of the house i suddenly became frightened. what am i going to do? i didn't know the old speaker could hop off the dais so quickly. and whatever it was the speaker came back and recognized wilbur mills. and he said in a tone he wanted to frighten and harass me, for what purpose this gentlewoman
from the great state of new york stand in the well of the house -- and i thought when he did that by using those tones because he had a deep voice anyhow that i would run out of the well of the house. and i said mr. chairman, for the past 35 minutes i have been attempting to gain recognition, and i'm a very highly visible person in this house of representatives, and whatever your reasons may be the speaker has not recognized me, so i thought the best thing to do was come to the well of the house because i have something very important to say. the empire state of new york will have five minutes. and i say it seems all of you -- i want you to know i'm asking -- i'm putting in an amendment to
ask for a different assignment. a committee assignment that has a little bit more relevance to the district that i represent. surprisingly enough nobody had ever done this before in the house. i was a bad child. but you know something, they went out, had a meeting and they did give me a committee assignment that a bit more relevancy to the district. and after i did that they would speak up, and they later told me that they wanted to make sure they would keep me quiet and keep me hidden before i started blossoming in the house. and they were shocked when i told them i knew that's what you all were trying to do but now you know the kind of person i am. >> who was your closest leadership ally in the house in those days?
>> what was funny about the house of representatives in those days, the democrats admired me and liked my spunkiness and feasty spirit. but i think they were too afraid to be closely allied with me because they knew the speaker didn't look on me too kindly because i was rebellious in terms of not accepting assignments that didn't make
sense. and all of a sudden both of them disappeared because the speaker was coming down the hall and they didn't want the speaker to really feel they were that close to me. it was a strange thing. when i was in the house i didn't go on because i wouldn't behave myself. and both speakers told me they used to always tell me they don't know what to do with you. i told them straight if i want today go to the air show i could pay my fare. i didn't realize is 16, 18 years later how progressive i was, how the gentlemen and people in politics look adat me because i
did things you were not supposed to do. but in the prosof doing them i opened up new approaches. but i paid for it in terms of not getting all the nice perks and everything. that didn't bother me. i didn't go there to get perks. >> why didn't you quit? >> because from the very inception of my political career when i was in the new york state legislator i said never do i intend to spend all my creative and productive years in the political arena. i never intended to be dragged out in an oxygen tank or actually dying and what have you, and what also supplemented my leaving was that the reagan administration had come in. and i saw so many things that we had done during the civil rights movement or what have you just beginning to fade away and the people in my own district were taking it out on me because i could no longer deliver like i used to be able to deliver i
decided this was inmoment for me to leave and go out and do other things because of the fact i knew i couldn't spend all my adult life in politics. >> what did you go onto do? >> i became a visiting professor. i love young people. so i conduct a lot of seminars. i do a lot of speech writing for politicians. you'll be surprised some of them who i do speech writing for. >> are you going to tell us? >> no, i can't do that. >> what would you tell us about congress to make it more effective? >> i would change this basically. i do not think that the congress of the united states is representative of the populations that make up this country. this country is multifaceted, multiracial, multiethnic land. >> how could you change the constitution? >> i'm not going to talk about
changing the constitution. i'm talking about what's happening now, really getting out there and running and winning. more hispanics and african-americans accepting the challenge. it doesn't mean you'll necessarily win, but you've got to have the guts and courage of your convictions to help to bring about change through your own actions, not change through rhetoric. >> isn't that happening now? >> it's happening now. it's a wonderful thing. i'm so glad that 20 years later that i have lived to really see what is happening. and the impetus women feel they had to go out there when they look at the days all these white males making these determinations about an issue that affected women and no women having a voice. i think that was the turning point for this year. women said the heck with this, we've got to start going out
there and running. >> had you been on the senate judiciary committee what do you think would have happened? >> i probably wouldn't have been able to get the vote, but i certainly would have spoken out about the way they were questioning ms. hill. i did not like it for one moment. i saw orrin hatch and this other guy from wyoming. i couldn't take my eyes off the screen to make a meal. and the democrats had made their
minds up that they had to make sure he didn't get on the bench. everybody engages in all kinds of tricks and what have you. i understood that. it's not what they were doing but how they were doing. what they were doing that woman just did something to me. >> one of the big questions is do you believe him or her? >> it's hard because neither one of us were there. we don't know what happened. >> do you have a feeling in your gut? >> i have a feeling that it was something on both sides of that issue, and i don't choose to go into that. there was something to both sides of that issue. it didn't have to do anything with politics. that's all i'm going to say. >> how do you think black leadership would have evolved had martin luther king remained alive? >> i think if nothing else martin luther king was the one black leader in this country, in this era that had the uncanny ability and skills and
articulation to issue a call to bring the black leaders together, the majority of black leaders together. there's no one today that can really bring all the black leaders together whether they're progressives or what have you. and martin luther would have outlined for us an agenda of where we think we ought to be going. but he commanded the respect -- he had the integrity and principles a lot of leaders don't have today. there's a lot of political expediency that goes on. it doesn't emanate from the heart. it's what you can get out of it and what have you. and i think had martin luther king been alive today, we may not have find ourselves in a kind of position in which there doesn't seem any longer to be
any unanimity of purpose of the black leaders for the agenda for our people. it's very troubling to me. >> how much longer do you think that race will be a central issue in american public affairs. >> it will always be a central issue. this country was founded in racism. it is the bugaboo of america which has rendered america so vulnerable to attacks of our eponents both within this country and without this country. the basic document of this land was written -- this country was born and bred in racism. i don't really believe we'll ever really eradicate racism in america. however, i must say honestly they have made improvements down through the years.
and right now i sometimes feel that we're back in the 1950s as i travel throughout the country once again and i see what is happening. sometimes i think we're back in the 1950s because there has been an erosion of so many of the gains we made. i don't think we could ever get rid of racism in america. i'm sorry to say but my gut tells me that. >> have you ever thought of yourself as a victim? >> of racism? >> well, i used the word victim because as you know there's a lot of discussion about the victim mentality of minorities not necessarily blacks, and that there's the criticism that black leadership encourages the sense of victimization because then that provides a rationale for seeking help from the government. and i wonder if you accept that, or is there another way to go?
>> i don't see it that way at all. i have to put it in the fact that whatever these leaders have been able to utilize that has worked in some way and it has resounded to the benefit of african-american people and it was successful, that they feel in many instances this is the way it should always go. they're not very experimental. they're not very creative in terms of looking at new ways to do things. i think it's more of a frailty
of human nature. i think that's why ross purow is out here and who is he, and yet everybody is falling behind him. ross in his own strange way is being creative if i could say that and everyone is focusing on ross instead of focusing on the agenda that will make american people that will become alienated and cynical about the traditional way of doing thing tuesday return. they're too busy focusing on mr. purow. this year in my humble opinion is going to be a bloodless, mini political revolution. i see it. i see it coming. it's going to be some convention both at the republican party
convention and the democrats party convention. >> and why then -- if that's so why do you think the republican convention will be something other than just a renomination of the president or vice president? >> i think that because surprisingly enough a large number of republican women and some of my best friends are republicans. a large number of republican women are going to the conventions and they're not going to take this anti-abortion issue -- and i'm going to use the word they used -- anymore. i could see the republican convention a kind of outburst and i put outburst in quotation marks around that whole abortion issue. just how i see it at the republican convention it's going to come that way. at the democratic convention
when you know that in the city of new york it's already been indicated that you're going to have all kinds of delegations out there in the streets. first of all, they've got to have a place ready to keep them away. you're going to have the pro-abortion forces, the pro-choice forces, the homeless and they're building their own tent out there. you're going to have to gay community. neither the republicans or democrats have paid attention to our issues, and because new york was a very overt outspoken place where anything and everything goes, i see -- i see and i also hope that convention does not come about like the and he had all the different groups out there rebelling and all the people in america could see on
the screen with the policemen, i'm very concerned. >> well, in the time remaining you retired from politics in '82 and went into teaching. what have you been teaching? >> i've been teaching the role of women in america. i've been teaching the history of black women in america. i've been teaching congress, power, politics. and my classes are very unusual in that i do not get up before the class and pontificate. i conduct the class in terms of my experiences, give them some basic premises pertraining to all three of these areas and there's a constant dialogue going on between myself and the students. and many of the supervisors and personal persons in higher
education who have witnessed my classes have made me feel very proud saying your classerize the most exciting classes we've ever seen. in fact, wherever i go the students and professors ask me to come back. but i've not gone back to many of them because i want to visit as many universities as i can. as of now i speak to you i have been in over 225 universities and colleges of this country over the past 25 years of my life. they've given to me the greatest kind of experiences. i love young people, and i don't feel we spend enough time with them. at this stage in my life i consider myself a stateswoman, a mentor and a person who's had the opportunity to be able to pass onto the next generation the experiencess i've had in this country. >> how do you explain all the
press reports and surveys that shows voter participation of young people weighed down and even interest weighed down? >> there's a reason for it because they've been listening to all this rhetoric. they've been listening to the fact that the piece dividend will come back to this country and they won't have to worry whether they're going to complete their four year education. they've been victims of hearing their parents and grandparents talk about career gate, billy gate, i say who needs it. >> your students who you say are rather engaged and intellectually alive do you think they go out of your classroom and become active
citizens st. >> a lot of them do. it's an amazing thing they refuse -- this is very interesting to me. a disproportionate number of them do not register as democrats or republicans. they register as independents. so when i have talked with them in private conversations where go, well, you know there's some basic premises in a democratic philosophy politically as we've known in america and a republican philosophy. why don't you make a choice? uh-uh because we are not interested, mrs. chisholm. they're not as hung up on traditional parties as we older folks are. >> how old are you? >> i'm 67 years of age. >> how old do you feel? >> i feel like 37. >> what are your plans for the future? >> i live my life now 1 day at a
time. i have no specific plans. since my husband passed away five years ago people really came back to me and said shirley we need that righteous voice of indignation out there. come back and let your voice be heard more for something. i said my time has passed. i would rather train and mentor and help younger blacks and younger women who are coming along. very content would the life i'm leading at this point. >> it's probably early for me to ask this of a 37-year-old woman, but because -- i think you'll get it. what would you like -- that makes me older than you. what would you like for your epitaph? >> it's interesting you should ask me that. i don't want to be -- i don't want to be necessarily known as the first african-american to be
elected into congress or the first temail who happen today be african-american. i would rather like to be -- my epitaph to read shirley chisholm, a calculus for change in the 20th century who happened to be an african-american female. i want to be known as a catalyst for change because that's how i regard myself. >> shurlirley chisholm, thank y very much. >> certainly. thank you. >> you're watching american history tv. every weekend on c-span 3 explore our nation's past. c-span 3 created by america's cable television companies as a public service and protto you today by your television
provider. >> weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview what's available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight city's tour takes you across the united states and through time as we explore our music history. some of the stops describe the auditorium in nashville, the rock and roll hall of fame in cleveland and birthplace of jazz music, new orleans. watch tonight beginning at 8:00 eastern. watch american history tv this week and every weekend on c-span 3. >> biden's record is a shameful roll call of the most catastroph catastrophic betrayals and blunders in our lifetime. he's spent his entire career on the wrong side of history. >> our current president has failed in his most basic duty to the nation. he's failed to protect us.
he's failed to protect america. and my fellow americans, that is unforgivable. >> the first presidential debate between president trump and former vice president joe biden is tuesday, september 29th at 9:00 p.m. eastern. watch live coverage on c-span. watch live stream [on demand at c-span.org or listen live on the free c-span radio app. >> up next coauthors of the book "republican populist, spiro, agn agn agnew." the center for the study of democracy at st. mary's college of maryland hosted this event. >> good afternoon. >> good afternoon. >> thank you. i appreciate that.