What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in Shirley, Netflix’s Shirley Chisholm Biopic

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The Netflix biopic follows Shirley Chisholm’s historic 1972 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Here’s what’s truth and what’s bluster.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images, Charley Gallay/Stringer/Getty Images, Natasha Campos/Stringer/Getty Images, Photo Researchers/Archive Photos/Getty Images, Bettmann/Getty Images, David Fenton/Archive Photos/Getty images, and Amy Sussman/Getty Images.

Chisholm was never a mainstream party insider like Clinton but had much more in common with her fellow determinedly independent Brooklyn College alum Bernie Sanders, focusing as much on economic and social injustice as on identity politics. As a Congresswoman, she introduced more than 50 pieces of legislation aimed at helping women, children, immigrants, people on low incomes, and people of color.

Despite her trailblazer status, Chisholm’s profile has receded, largely due to her being somewhat marginalized by the Congressional Black Caucus and the leadership of the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, dominated as it was by socially conservative Southern Baptist ministers, both because she plowed her own furrow and because of her gender. “When I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more discrimination as a woman than for being black.

 

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