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Unbought And Unbossed

4.46  ·  Rating details ·  510 ratings  ·  85 reviews
Unbought and Unbossed is Shirley Chisholm's account of her remarkable rise from young girl in Brooklyn to America's first African-American Congresswoman. She shares how she took on an entrenched system, gave a public voice to millions, and sets the stage for her trailblazing bid to be the first woman and first African-American President of the United States. By daring to b ...more
Hardcover, 177 pages
Published October 1st 1970 by Houghton Mifflin
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Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"One bill that I introduced should become law in every state, but unfortunately it did not succeed even in New York. It would have made it mandatory for policemen to successfully complete courses in civil rights, civil liberties, minority problems, and race relations before they are appointed to a police department." Shirley Chisholm, 1970.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A well-crafted memoir about a stellar and abstemious political figure who actually gasp wanted to do her job, i.e.- uncompromisingly serve her constituents to the best of her ability without resorting to the dirty, ineffectual, time-wasting tactics of her counterparts. Not only was this an autobiography, it was a critical exposé of the sociopolitical problems that she encountered. “Unbought and Unbossed” didn't limit itself to only issues surrounding a “Black female" in a profession dominated by ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I talk to people about Shirley Chisholm I am surprised how many people do not remember her. She was a trailblazer in the truest sense of the word. She radiated qualities of tenacity, passion, and confidence.
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Though the term has been carelessly tossed around over the past couple years, Shirley Chisholm embodied the definition of "political outsider". A regular, Black woman schoolteacher from Brooklyn, Chisholm knew that her very presence ran counter to the political agendas within both New York & national politics, but she gathered the guts to take them to task anyways. Chisholm understood how to run a real grassroots political campaign, standing firm in her decision to be a voice for the most disenf ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is partly about Congresswoman Chisholm's career, but it is moreso a very in-depth look at the inner workings of our government and how and why it operates--and how she tried to work within it to get things done for her people.

I worked on the hill as a computer installer (during the Lewinski scandal) and saw some of the things she spoke on first hand, and it is sad to see that nothing changed from when she wrote this book.

A great book, and well worth your time to read to understand ho
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everyone should read this book. Especially if you're as pissed off as I am about the way things have gone. The current state of things in this country are a mess and Ms. Chisholm saw it all from a distance. I think there's still hope. But educating ourselves it the first step forward.
Carmen Slaughter
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Compelling read. So much of what she expresses in this book, written over four decades ago, is still pertinent. However, there are some passages that clearly define her as a prophet. I think she would be extremely proud of how far we've come but as she says in her closing paragraph,"There must be a new coalition of all Americans - black, white, red, yellow, and brown, rich and poor - who are no longer willing to allow their rights as human beings to be infringed upon by anyone else, for any reas ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“One question bothers me a lot: Who’s listening to me? Some of the time, I feel dishearteningly small and futile. It’s as if I’m facing a seamless brick wall, as if most people are deaf to what I try to say. It seems so clear to me what’s wrong with the whole system. Why isn’t it clear to most others?”

Love love loved this book & Shirley Chisholm. Incredibly inspiring & a good reminder to keep fighting for what you believe in. READ THIS BOOK!
Kylee Ehmann
Shirley Chisholm was one of our nation's most spectacular leaders, and if all of Congress followed her philosophy of truly working for the people and living with us, we'd be in a better place. I struggle with biographies that are meandering, and I deeply love that she gets to the point. The book's pace is fast and its tone is inspiring.
Renee Ortenzio
Nov 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
She hated being remembered as a 'first', but she was. The first black, female congressman. Her memoir is over 40 years old, but it is still so very relevant today. Substitute newer politicians names, and this could have been written in 2016. A must read.
Books are TARDIS
Shirley Chisholm is the truest and bravest icon to me. She is such a beacon of hope and light for women. I couldn't uphold this person higher, if I tried. What a powerful read. #Respect
Winter Sophia Rose
Nov 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Pioneer, Trailblazer, Inspiring & Classy To The End. ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A true maverick indeed.. Mrs. Chisholm is such an inspiration.
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are looking for the story of the struggle of women in politics, look no further. Shirley Chisholm lived intersectionality decades before it was a thing.
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy how I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn't current politics.
I don't enjoy politics, and I don't enjoy reading about politics, but I do enjoy women's history. Shirley Chisholm published this book in 1970, after recently becoming the first black Congresswoman. How refreshing to read the story of someone who went into politics to help people. Chisholm was not a career politician, but someone who tried to change the system from the inside.

I love her candidness and her clarity. Her conviction. "It seems so clear to me what is wrong with the whole system. Why
Derek Lynch
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shirley Chisholm is everything & this book chronicles her life from birth to serving as the first Black woman congressperson in US history.

Pros: Chisholm’s voice is clear and her morals are unflinching - she sticks to her principles even when facing misogynoir & rampant discrimination at the hands of colleagues. What stands out to me most, though, is Chisholm’s insistence that she be more than just “the first” - she’s an effective advocate, legislator, and communicator who fights for the rights
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shirley Chisholm was revolutionary. I highlighted entire passages. If you want to understand how the political system works by an unbossed and unbought woman who fought against it, then this is a must read.
Such a fascinating read. And very appropriate for this place and time. With the influx of women, youth and people of color into our legislature It's interesting to look back at the first black woman congresswoman. It is quite sad to see how little progress we've made in the past 50 years. Shirley certainly foresaw the importance of the influx of women, youth and persona of color into politics. This is an incredible read. I learned a lot about Shirley and about politics in the 50s and 60s.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting, informative, and shockingly still relevant in 2019.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of politicians' books are tiresome garbage that no one really wants to read except political science majors and uber fans. Chisholm's work is like her personality, direct, compelling, forceful. What's interesting to me is that I see a lot of Chisholm's spirit in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the idea that our representatives are there to make our lives better, that they work for us, that it's an act of service to be in Congress. Instead, the same kinds of grasping climbers and money grubs who ...more
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ms. Chisholm was a true woman for the people. Her political career and mantra should be the blueprint for politicians in 2020.
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm old enough to remember Shirley Chisholm, so of course she's a hero of mine. If you don't remember her or she isn't yet your hero, please just read this book and she will be. She was the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and she ran for president in 1972.

This short book was written in 1970, but she could have written it yesterday, I'm afraid. In terms of political deal-making, poverty, racism, and sexism, things have either worsened or changed very little since then. What a br
Jennifer Heise
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, memoirs
I had forgotten that I had read this, but I have and I adore Shirley Chisholm.

This is the woman who said: "Service is the rent that you pay for room on this earth."

Her autobiography, written in 1970 when she was a fairly new Representative, begins:
"I was the first American citizen to be elected to Congress in spite of the double drawbacks of being female and having skin darkened by melanin.
When you put it that way, it sounds like a foolish reason for fame. In a just and free society it would be
Zack Rearick
Oct 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Shirley Chisholm in 1970 is the president that America needs in 2020. Her personal story is inspirational, but I most enjoyed her analyses of political power and how it operates, and how it can corrupt or constrain men (mostly men) with less backbone. Reading an individual passage, you might think it had been written last week — which could be a testament to Chisholm as ahead of her time, or an indictment of our failure to adequately address key issues (education, equality, policing) in the span ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
"We should be concerned with finding and running every qualified candidate we can from every office that is open, from county commissioner to U.S. senator and for President and Vice President."

I can't believe it took me this long to find this book. Written by Shirley Chisholm, America's first African-American Congresswoman, this book catalogs her experiences as a black woman making her way into congress.

Full of anecdotes that truly capture their time Congresswoman Chisholm talks openly about the
Gabriel Myers
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unbought and Unbossed by Shirley Chisholm is an autobiography about Chisholm’s personal and political lives. The text first discusses the events of Chisholm’s childhood and her family. Next, Chisholm’s work in democratic political clubs and her time as a member of the New York State Assembly. Finally, the rest of the text talks about Chisholm’s time in the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 12th congressional district and her thoughts on certain political topics and how she and others ...more
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I WISH I COULD GIVE THIS BOOK 10 stars! The more I learn about #ShirleyChisholm, the first Black woman in Congress and the first Black woman to run as a major party candidate for president of the United States of America, the more I am in awe of her – absolute, profound awe. I’m finally getting around to reading her autobiography, “Unbought and Unbossed” and I’m falling in love with her all over again. In chapter 11: Facing the Abortion Question, she addresses this hot-button issue head on. In t ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating autobiographical account of a US black congresswoman in the 1960s. Shirley Chisholm seems to have been an impressive person who saw herself as one among many needed to make a difference to women, non-white Americans, and anyone not seen as "establishment". Throughout the book she talks about her role, not to be a hero but to be one of the steps that people she represented needed to move forward as a whole, so that the next person after her can build on her success, and the person aft ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Unbought and Unbossed is a straightforward read. So much so that the chapters focusing on Chisholm's tenure in the New York Assembly and Congress read like an introductory political science textbook. In many ways the autobiography is unremarkable. Chisholm represents herself, like politicians before and after her, as committed to her constituents, above special interest, and a lone rational voice in a capital overflowing with corruption. Yet still it is impossible to deny her remarkable journey. ...more
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Shirley Anita St. Hill was born in Brooklyn, New York, of immigrant parents. Her father, Charles Christopher St. Hill, was born in British Guiana and arrived in the United States via Antilla, Cuba, on April 10, 1923, aboard the S.S. Munamar in New York City. Her mother, Ruby Seale, was born in Christ Church, Barbados, and arrived in New York City aboard the S.S. Pocone on March 8, 1921. At age thr ...more

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