Shirley (2024)

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Shirley (2024)

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[uplifting music builds slowly]

[man] In the 12th Congressional District

of New York,

a schoolteacher named

Mrs. Shirley Chisholm

was elected to Congress.

Running sip. Come on. [chuckling]

- Shirley.

- [slurping]



I'll see you later.

[indistinct overlapping chatter]

Ladies and gentlemen of the press,

fellow representatives,

as Speaker of the House,

it is my honor to introduce

the freshman class of the 91st Congress

of the United States of America.


Gentlemen, madam, welcome to Congress.


- Thank you.

- Congresswoman Chisholm.

[music ends]

- ["Sugar" by The Isonics playing]

- A-one, a-two

A-one, two, three, four

Aw, shucks!

Aw, baby, it's never less!


- Come on

- Yeah, yeah

Aw, yeah

Like candy you buy at the corner store

I keep coming for more

Candy's sweet, girl, yes, it's true

But not as sweet as you, now

[indistinct conversations]

[woman] Oh!


How are you, young lady? Come here.

She worked hard, man.

She worked real hard.

You're going to be president?

I'm a congressman.

You ain't no man.

Maybe we should find your mother.


All right, now, now, now, now

[man] You and Shirley

have to move to Washington.

Well you know, she'll probably

get an apartment down there.

[cameraman] Conrad, Shirley,

would you mind?

[camera clicks]

[in Spanish] You've always

been there for us.

I remember, when we came

to Brooklyn from Puerto Rico,

you made us feel part of the family.

You are my family.

[woman in English] This is just

the beginning, honey. The real fight?

Men in Washington don't understand

how important the ERA is for us.

Yes, and when the bell hits the floor,

I'll be there for you. I promise.

And we're gonna be there for you.

- [in Spanish] I appreciate you so much.

- I appreciate you too.

[both chuckle]

- [in English] Thank you.

- Mm.

Let's go, Mama.

[mama] You don't wanna

say goodbye to your sister?

[sister] She's busy.

Always is.

I'm gonna say bye.

All right, now, now, now, now






I'm callin' your name out there, baby


So sweet and Yeah, baby



[footsteps echoing]

Morning, Ms. Chisholm. How you doing?

I'm feeling pretty well.

My, imagine making 42.5 like me.

Congressman, we've both been here

for at least a week.

And you say that to me nearly every day.

Nearly every day,

I'm amazed that you're able to make

as much money as the rest of us.

Two things.

First of all, since you can't stand

the idea of my making 42.5 like you,

when you see me coming

into this chamber, vanish.

Vanish so you don't have to confront me

with this 42.5.

Secondly, you have to remember

the reason I'm here.

I'm paving the road

for a lot of other people looking like me

to get elected to Congress and make 42.5.



- Ron.

- Got a second?

More than a second for a friendly face.

Well, let's just see

how you feel after we talk.


Want to give you a heads-up.

They're putting together assignments

for new congressmen,

and they're assigning you

to the Agricultural Committee.


- Corn, wheat, cows?

- I don't know about no cows.

I represent Brooklyn.

What am I gonna do for the people

of Brooklyn on the Agriculture

I wanted Veterans' Affairs.

I went through the same

my first year in Congress.

- Serve on the committee you're assigned.

- Agriculture? No.

- That's just how it is.

- Who do I have to talk to?

Speaker McCormack makes

all the committee assignments.

But he's Speaker of the House.

You don't talk

to the Speaker of the House.


Oh Lord.

There is no good reason to appoint me

to the Agricultural Committee.

- You're a freshman.

- I represent the 12th District.

- Take the assignment you're given.

- People need jobs and housing.

- That's why they voted.

- Earn seniority...

Seniority? I don't want to hear

about seniority, John.

If you want me to fight you

on this, I'll fight you.

You are not going to fight anyone.

I am Speaker of the House.

I decide who sits where,

and you better fall in line,

or you're gonna k*ll your career

before it even gets started.

Um, Andrew, here. Hold up a sec.

"Don't make a fuss,

and do as you're told."

Sh... Shirley. Shirley. Shirley. Shirley.

I understand your frustration,

but it's just

- It's a process, Shirley.

- He's the leader of my own party.

Congresswoman from Brooklyn,

and he wants to put me on an...

It's about seniority.

So wait my turn?

Not wait, but


Shirley, it's your first term.

- Given time, you'll do great things.

- "Given time"?

- I believe that. I do.

- You want to give Richard Nixon time.

[sighs deeply]




[somber music playing]

[sighs deeply]

You'll find a way to fit in.

[doorbell rings]

["The Joy of Christmas"

by Dom James playing]

[Shirley] Mac, good to see you.



- Merry Christmas.

- Thank you. [chuckles]

Come in.

[Arthur] Thank you.

[song fades out]

[Mac] Shirley, in October,

you told the Committee to Elect Chisholm

in Florida if they could raise $5,000,

that you would put your name

on the primary ballot.

They raised almost 10,000.


[Conrad] So what does that mean,

that they raised money?

[Arthur] Yes, Miss Shirley.

What exactly does that mean?


Well, I told the women

if they raised the money,

I'd put my name on the ticket.

I'd run for president.


What do you want us to tell them?

Shirley, if you run,

you can't win.

Well, not with that attitude, I can't.

And why can't I win?

Besides the fact that I'm a Black woman.

[Mac] Muskie's going to run away

with the Democratic primary.

Even if you did get in the race,

the field's too crowded.

Muskie. McGovern's running.

Lindsay's probably gonna run.

Humphrey'll run.

Humphrey always runs. Mills.

Scoop Jackson, for God's sake.

George Wallace.

And what do they all have in common?

Middle-aged white men.

Who is representing the Blacks,

the women, the Chicanos,

the youth, the working class?

Well, one thing for sure,

you don't have enough money.

I'll fundraise.

[Mac] Off of who?

The Chicanos, the youth,

the working class?

[scoffs] They don't have any money.

Not real money.

If you wanted to even

have a token campaign,

you'd have to start with three?


At least 300,000.

And that would be a bare-bones,

slimmed-down campaign.


I go to speak at college campuses,

and I have boys, white boys,

coming up to me talking about,

"Mrs. Chisholm, when are you gonna do it?"

"When are you going to run for president?"

If there are white boys

who think I could be president,

who think I should be president,

then how am I not gonna try

for everybody else?

[chuckles softly] Well

You're certainly not afraid to run.

I ought to know.



[sighs deeply]

What would you need from us?

I would need you to advise me,

same as always.

Arthur, you can oversee the money.

Conrad can take a bit of time off work

to handle the security.



[Shirley] Nothing?

Nobody's got anything to say?

You're running for president.

What is there to say?


Tell them I said, "Yes."

[gentle music playing]

I'm gonna have to find you

a campaign manager.

- Needs to be somebody Black.

- Needs to be somebody good.

I have to make some calls.

Yeah, well, I gotta raise $300,000.

Merry Christmas to you. [chuckles]

[Mac] One hell of a way

to start the New Year.

You ready to do this again?

- [Mac] One more time.

- [Shirley] Wow!

[Shirley chuckling]

[match ignites]



What do you think?

A little late to be asking me now.

But it's not too late.

I've never known you not to win.

Not once.

Why should this time be any different?

I should get a new camera.

You're about to make history.

Whatever you get, make sure it's used,

and make sure it's cheap.

[chuckles softly]

[gentle music builds slowly]

[Shirley] Robert?


How are you, Mrs. C?

Look at you. What is all that?

Uh, well, you know.

I'm not a congressional aide anymore. So...

So you went and got all hip on me.

- [chuckles]

- [Robert] I suppose I did.

Yeah, it's been a little while.

I would have to say

that the thing that I remember most,

a first-year congressman,

and you forced the Speaker to give you

a different committee assignment.

I mean, how do you even

Just don't ever accept things

the way they are.

Mrs. C, I gotta tell you,

interning for you

is one of the most memorable experiences

that I've ever had.

I appreciate it. I do.

And I understand you're doing

some impressive things at Cornell.

Elected to the Board of Regents.

Yeah, I'm just a student representative.

The first ever.

Robert, a bit of advice?

Don't be humble.

Humility in successful people

comes off as its own kind of arrogance.

I don't know that I'm a successful person.

- Robert.

- [chuckling nervously]

Okay. Yes.

Yes. Understood.


[takes a deep breath]

So, I have something I want to tell you.

I am running for president.

Of the United States?


That's I mean, that's

Right the hell on, Mrs. C.

I mean, that's that's great.

You would be the most amazing president

that this country has ever seen.

I mean, wow. That

If there's anything I can do to help

Well, there is.

I need you to be

my national student coordinator.

I'm so What?

Overseeing all the student organizations

affiliated with the campaign

in the states where I'm on the ballot.

- Okay.

- Putting together campus rallies.

Well, Mrs. C, um

I I can't.

I don't like the word "can't."

Yes, I know. But I

Robert, this is the first year

18-year-olds will be able to vote

in a national election.

To get them to vote, they need to know

that using their vote

can make a difference.

National coordinator?

I mean, I just turned 21.

Old enough to be fighting

and dying in Vietnam.

I mean, it's the middle

of the school year, and I can't


Well, I mean, I I

I have to call the university.

I mean I mean, I gotta call my parents.

[bell clinks]

Should we maybe knock on the door

and tell Mrs. Chisholm I've arrived?

She knows we're waiting.

We should let her finish her lunch.

[Mac] New camera?

Yeah, it's like new.

[quietly] Thank you.

Sorry to keep you waiting.

Not at all.

Shirley, Stanley Townsend.


- How are you, Mrs. Chisholm?

- I'm feeling pretty well.

You've met everybody? Conrad.

Arthur, Robert Gottlieb,

my youth coordinator.

He certainly fits the "youth" part.

I'm old enough to be in Vietnam.

Yes, you are.

[Mac] Stan's a longtime

political operative.

He's excited about the prospect

of working on the campaign.

Very excited.

Well, I think we all are.

I can imagine. I will say,

we have a lot of ground to cover.

So we need to decide

how to most effectively position

your messaging.

My position and my messaging

are very simple.

I'm trying to give politics

back to the people.

[Stan] Absolutely.

But you're running a national campaign.

So how do we convey your message

to voters across America?

By telling voters across America

I'm trying to give politics

back to the people.

A national campaign,

it's a little more challenging than that.

But it needn't be.

Mrs. Chisholm I'm signing on

for an underfunded operation

because who you are

and what you're about meet the moment.

But you have to meet voters

where they live.

All I ask is that you trust

I can help you accomplish that.


All right.

Well [chuckles]

- Let's get you elected president.

- All right.

["I'm Coming Home"

by September Jones plays]

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

I'm coming home

[Shirley] I stand before you today

as a candidate

for the Democratic nomination

for the presidency

of the United States of America.

I am not the candidate of Black America,

although I am Black and proud.

I am not the candidate

of the women's movement of this country,

although I am a woman,

and I am equally proud of that.

I am not the candidate

of any political bosses or fat cats

or special interests.

I stand here now without endorsements

from any big-name politicians

or celebrities.

I do not intend to offer

to you the tired and glib clichs

which for too long have been

an accepted part of our political life.

- [no audible applause or cheers]

- ["I'm Coming Home" intensifies]

[song ends]

I am the candidate

of the people of America.

[cheers and applause]

And my presence before you now symbolizes

a new era in American political history.

I have faith in the American people.

[audience] Yeah.

I believe that we are intelligent enough

to recognize the talent, energy,

and dedication which all Americans,

including women and minorities,

have to offer.

We are all God's children,

and the will of each of us

is just as precious

as the will of the most powerful of us.

Our will can create a new America in 1972.

[audience] Yeah!

One where there is freedom from v*olence

and w*r at home and abroad.

[audience] Yeah!

Where there is freedom

from poverty and discrimination.

Where there exists at least a feeling

that we are making progress for everyone.

[audience] Yes!

All of you who share this vision,

who have been neglected,

left out, forgotten,

ignored, or shunned aside,

join me in an effort to regain our society

and regain control of our destiny.

As we go down the Chisholm Trail for 1972.

- [cheers and applause]

- ["I'm Coming Home" resumes]

I'm coming home

Shirley Chisholm is the only candidate

who is perfectly situated

to have a dramatic effect

on politics in this country.

I will encourage all of my constituents

throughout Oakland, throughout California

Frankly, voters across this country,

when you are considering

the next president,

there's one name

and only one name that you should speak.

And that name is Shirley Chisholm.

[Shirley] Ron.

[Ron] Shirley.


[song fades out]

Thank you, Ron.


The endorsement, early and strong.

Oh, Shirley, if you in this race,

you in it to win.

Ron Dellums is not betting against you.

[Shirley chuckles]

- You competing in California?

- Mmm.

[Ron] Mmm.

You run in California,

I will put all my capital behind you.

You carry the Bay Area,

Oakland, San Francisco...

Ron, California is winner take all.

I don't have the time

or resources to put into California,

just so Muskie can take all the delegates.

Well word of caution.

Walter Fauntroy might be

a problem for you.


Little Lord Fauntroy.

[Shirley chuckles]

They want to run him as the favorite son

candidate in the district.

It's gonna put you two in opposition.

"Now, Ronald, I'm not in opposition

to Shirley, you understand?"

"I'm simply asking that she be

a good little girl and wait her turn."

[chuckling] You

You got him down cold.

- [Ron laughs]

- Mmm

Ron, thank you for believing.



You are like a big sister to me.

However, this thing goes,

I'm with you till the end.

[quietly] Thank you.

- [quietly] Of course.

- [Shirley sighs]

I'm hungry. Go and get some McDonald's.

You know that's my favorite.

- [Ron] May be able to go down the street.

- Strawberry shake.

[Ron] Strawberry

- [both chuckling]

- ["Street Girl" playing]

The analysts are still analyzing,

and they don't understand that

something new is happening in America.

And this campaign,

the Shirley Chisholm campaign,

is the note of the new politics.

The rest of it

is just making tired old noises.

What I have said is very clear.

Shirley Chisholm views her candidacy

as a representation

of the right of a woman

and a Black to run

for the highest office in this land.

I have considered Senator McGovern

the best white male candidate.

I am sick and tired of

people asking the question,

"Mrs. Chisholm, are you serious

about running for president?"

The fact that people,

even other women, feminists,

can't take my campaign seriously

is an indication of the prescribed role

this society has given to women.

We acknowledge racial politics,

ethnic politics,

but we are just beginning to admit

that this country has

a problem with gender politics.

We need to get over ourselves

and redirect the priorities of this nation

to make it a haven

for all kinds of people,

regardless of race, color, creed, or sex.

[cheers and applause]

- Yeah.

- Yeah, Chisholm.

[funky instrumental music playing]

[no audible dialogue]

[music fades]

[music rises]

[music ends]

[young woman] I want

to be part of something.

I see what's going on in the country.

Vietnam, all of it.

It's [sighs]

I'm tired.

I am barely 25,

and I am tired of the way things are.

Tired of the men

that we're sending to Washington.

Humphrey and Muskie, they are better

than Nixon, but is that the standard?

- I hope not.

- To be better than the man that's corrupt?

And I hear you talk about people

having the power to make change.

And I don't know where to start.

Are you registered to vote?

Registered? No.

Little girl, the first thing

you've got to do is vote.

That ain't my scene.

Voting's bourgeois politics.

If all you're doing

is outside yelling and screaming,

that's all you're ever gonna be,

a yeller and a screamer.

You have to be part of the process.

The process doesn't exist

in politics for Black women.

You're different.

I saw what needed to be done,

and I did it.

That's not different.

That's necessary.

I want you to come work for me.

On your campaign?

Or is that too bourgeois for you?


I got a baby. I'm a single mother.

- And I just need to...

- Ah.

Then you understand

what people are facing more than most.

You don't have to work for us full-time.

Just when you can, how you can.

I don't have any experience.

Well, I don't have any moola.


But I can offer you

the opportunity to make a difference.

[sighs] Okay.


- Okay.

- [both chuckle softly]

[gentle music playing]

- Two signatures on the next page.

- Vote's Tuesday.

- Sign where?

- Two signatures on this page.

- Shirley come on.

- [overlapping chatter]

- [woman] You can't miss this flight.

- [Shirley] Yes.

- Shirley.

- Bob Dole, Senator Dole.

first thing in the morning. You'll

get in late so I won't bother you tonight.

If you need anything, I'm heading home.

[light instrumental music playing]

[driver] Ma'am.

We're here.

[clears throat]

[low monotone droning]

[Shirley] Conrad?


[Conrad groans softly]

[Shirley] Sorry to wake you.

You're late.

[Shirley] Flight was delayed.

Is there anything to eat?

[Conrad] What's that?

[Shirley] Do we have anything to eat?

[Conrad] I think

there's something in the freezer.

There's nothing warm?

- I could run and get you something...

- From where? It's late.

Everything's closed.


It's all right. I I'll

I'll I'll warm something.

I have to get up early

and meet with Stanley.

It's all right.

It's all right.

["I Don't Mind Doin' It"

by Jackie Lavant & The Fashions playing]


[newsman] The US has been holding

presidential elections nearly 200 years.

Each one significant,

but the election this year

has been more than a demonstration

of stability and continuity.

A combination of factors,

reforms within the two major parties,

a new law giving young people

the right to vote,

and a new political awareness

on the part of groups previously inactive,

have made 1972 a potential turning point

in American political history.

[Stan] Reaching your base,

turning them on, getting them out to vote.

That's what this campaign is all about.

We need 1,500 delegates

to get the nomination for president.


that's how many we currently have.

So, we got six months

from now until the last primaries

in June to rack up some numbers.

- How are we gonna earn those delegates?

- I got national polling...

[Stan] First two primaries are

New Hampshire and Florida on March 14th.

Wouldn't be in the race without Florida.

When asked,

"What do you know about Shirley Chisholm?"

- [Stan] New Hampshire?

- Forget about New Hampshire.

Muskie's got it sewn up.

According to papers,

Muskie's got the nomination sewn up.

46% of the respondents

knew that you were Black.

38% knew you were a woman...

38%? The name doesn't give it away?

'Cause Shirley is one of those names

you see that goes either way.

- Like Chris or Leslie.

- Alabama?

- Shirley is not like Chris or Leslie.

- [Shirley] No.

- [Stan] Arizona?

- Mm-mmm.

Point is, a plurality of the electorate

doesn't even know who you are.

[Stan] Ohio?

Carl Stokes would att*ck me

to death if I get into Ohio.

- Colorado?

- [Mac] May I finish my thought?

Your lack of recognition is a challenge,

but it also means voters

haven't formed an opinion yet...

- Colorado?

- The reform wing is in the minority.

- We should look to get on the ballot...

- [Conrad] Shirley.

[camera clicks]

We shouldn't actively campaign

in Colorado.

Opinions about you

are going to be formed in debates.

They're going to be critical.

Shirley's a hell of a debater, man.

Ran circles around James Farmer.

Farmer wasn't a career politician.

The rest of these boys talk sh*t

faster than I can make it.

- [Stan] California?

- [men laughing]

[Arthur] Oh


- No.

- [all] Shirley!

- Know how many colleges there are?

- California's a winner-take-all state.

If we put our time

and energy into California,

we'll walk away with nothing.

It's a big, shiny object

that'll leave us distracted and defeated.


Shirley, right now

your entire national campaign

is built on one state, Florida.

That's our campaign.

We'll build from there.

["Let a Woman Be a Woman -

Let a Man Be a Man" plays]

And they can talk sh*t all they want.

[newsman] Why are more and more millions

of Americans turning to Governor Wallace?

Take a walk in your street

or park tonight.

- [g*nsh*t]

- [glass shatters]

There's a lot of talk

these days about liberalism.

Well, what did liberalism do for America?

Brought us drug addiction in our streets,

brought a breakdown of law and order.

And now this idea they have of busing

our children to achieve racial balance.

That's their way of taking away your right

to raise your child how you see fit.

[newsman] Why are more and more millions

of Americans turning to Governor Wallace?

Follow as your children

are bused across town.

Busing is an ineffective solution

to school integration.

It is a burden carried

by the same children we're trying to help.

That is a great answer for Florida.

- But you can't say

- "Can't"?

that you don't support busing

in Massachusetts or New York.

It does sound

like something Wallace would say.

[Stan] What's your position on abortion?

I am an ardent advocate

of family planning.

- I am aware, however

- Shirley...

that for a number of reasons

- Shirley...

- birth control is not enough.

- Shirl...

- Contraceptive devices fail, and...

Shirley, you can't say all that.

- I'm sorry, Stanley. "Can't"?

- Too much nuance.

- Mac.

- [Man] I'm being honest.

Your answer needs to be more direct.

The same with busing.

Well, that's my answer on one side

of the Mason-Dixon or the other.

And I am not leaving out the nuance.

Hey! Hot off the press.

Before we do all that, can we please

just finish up what we've started here?

[Conrad] These came out good.

- [Shirley] They did.

- I'm leaving for Florida in the morning.

By the time you all get there,

I'll have volunteers in place.

I'll have all the venues booked.

We're gonna be starting

with a speaking engagement at FSU.

This trip has got to run

like a Swiss watch, son.

We have to have

a strong showing in this primary.

- I'll have it handled.

- [Shirley] Thank you, Robert.

Of course.

All right.

- I'll see you in Florida.

- All right.

[up-tempo instrumental music playing]

- [music stops]

- [indistinct PA announcement]

Twenty-two primaries still to go

in this campaign '72.

The politicians now are shifting

their efforts from New Hampshire's snow

to Florida's sand.

You need to decide if you're going to

this National Black Political Convention

in Gary, Indiana. There'll be leaders

from every cross-section.

- Radical, faith-based, conservative...

- We'll see.

I got an invitation for you to speak

down here at the Pearly Club.

That's an exclusive club.

Exclusive white?

[Mac] Exclusive male.

You'd be the first female speaker

they've ever had.

A white men's club here in Florida?

But you're not gonna attend

a Black political convention in Gary?

Listen, why don't we just

table all the Gary talk

and let her just get some sleep?

We'll pick it up tomorrow.

Hello. I'm calling on behalf

of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

The congresswoman will be holding

events while campaigning in Florida

[woman] Your vote can change America.

[man] These fundraisers are an opportunity

to meet Shirley face-to-face.

[cheers and applause]

And I call to you, the youth of America,

to take part in the fight for the future.

Those of you who are able to vote

for the very first time

must use your voices

and let the politicians know

that the government

belongs to all the people.

- [young woman] Yes!

- [cheering]

Register to vote!

If all you are is on the outside

yelling and screaming,

then that's all you'll ever be,

a yeller and a screamer.

Be a part of the process!

US foreign policy

should avoid taking sides

and focus on the humanitarian crisis

happening in the Middle East.

What's your take on the Black Panthers?

Well, it's a shame

the Black Panthers are necessary,

but I understand why they are.

But it's important for us

to get the vote out to young people.

It's the first election

that people who are 18 get to vote.

[in Spanish] This isn't just about

a fair wage. This is about our lives.


- [in English] You support busing.

- Are you asking me or telling me?

[light laughter]

My opponents is

twisting themselves into pretzels,

trying to explain

where they stand on busing.

I don't support busing.

It's an artificial solution

to the segregation problem.

Open housing is the real answer.

But as long as the problem exists,

an artificial solution

is better than none at all.

[newsman] One of the most

active candidates of campaign '72

is Shirley Chisholm of Brooklyn.

I love you, Shirley!

I don't need your love, darling.

I need your vote.

I'm gonna vote for you.

You or George Wallace.

All right. Well

I'll say this. Shirley Chisholm

is the only other candidate

who says the same thing

in the South that she says in the North.

[man 1] Shirley Chisholm

will never be president.

This is America.

[man 2] That woman

needs to get out of the race.

[man 3] She bristles at the suggestion

she step aside,

lest she draw liberal votes away

from other presidential contenders.

[Shirley] Why is it that it has to

always be white males, white males,

white males, white males, white males?


[Shirley] If you can't support me,

or you can't endorse me,

get out of my way.

You do your thing, and let me do mine.

You go to hell, you Black bitch!

You f*cking Black bitch! I'll k*ll you!

You f*cking Black bitch!

I'll f*ckin' k*ll you!

[echo fades to silence]

[exhales shakily]

- [tap squeaks]

- [water running]

[breathing deeply]

[tap squeaks]

[door opens]

[door shuts]

Police got him.

He was just some

some crazy.

Hell of a world, eh?

[soft chuckle] People like that.

Anyway, the police got him now.

Where were you?

He was that close to me.

You're supposed to be my security.

You're supposed to protect me.

Where were you?

I try as hard as I can

to be the man you want.

Attentive, and mindful, and

But always out of the way

and off to the side.

I do it.

I'm happy to do it because I know

how important all this is to you.

It's not just for me.

[Conrad] I know

all the good that you can do.

So I'll be your shadow.

Because I know, for whatever reason,

a shadow of a man is what you want.

But don't get upset with me

when I'm a little too good at it.

[classical tune playing on piano]

[interviewer] It has been said,

"Behind every great man is a great woman."

Behind Shirley Chisholm

is Conrad Chisholm,

an investigator for the City Bureau

of Medical Services.

You two have been married for 19 years.

How would you describe each other?


[Conrad] Well, I tell you.

I remember a time when she was introduced

at a dinner by the MC.

And it was very fitting, to me,

that he described her

as 100 pounds of nuclear energy.

And I think it was very appropriate.

Well, I would describe my husband as

200 pounds of patience.

[both chuckle]

My husband is a remarkable man.

I can truthfully say

that I would not have

been able to reach the top

unless I had a very understanding mate.

And indeed, I know it has been

most difficult for him, occasionally.

Well I've had to sacrifice quite a bit,

but I enjoy sacrificing it

for what she's doing.

[interviewer] Thank you both very much.

[tape unspooling]

- ["Last Night" by Neice Dezel plays]

- Let me tells you what happened to me

[Stan] It's an embarrassment.

I mean, this is

what the campaign's come to,

Shirley and Wallace.

Shirley got blown out in Florida,

less than 1% of the vote in Illinois.

Same in Wisconsin.

Less than 1% of the vote.

And no delegates.

You can spare Shirley the numbers.

Three months from the convention,

and we're moving backward.


I dig her speaking-truth thing,

but that doesn't get you votes.

Stanley, what do you want?

I want you to help me help Shirley.

I can't manage from the bleachers.

You want me to help you sideline Shirley?

[Stan chuckles] Oh, hell no, Mac.

You know me better.

We just need to compartmentalize her

so we can better guide the campaign.


Just guide it. Guide Shirley for Shirley.

You know my history with Shirley?

You knew her from, uh, when you formed

the Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League.

She was still a senior

at Brooklyn College.

Taught Shirley everything

I knew about politics.

How to read people

and the games they play.

How the system works,

how some people are kept out

and others kept in.

And after I taught Shirley all that,

she turns around and runs against me

for president of my own league.

You still work with her.

[chuckles] You forgive her?

Nothing to forgive.

Shirley believes in the necessary.

At the time, she thought

it was necessary for her to replace me.

That's something to remember

when you talk about guiding Shirley.

["Take Care of Your Own Business"

by Dave Hamilton playing]

You drink your whiskey

- I'll drink my wine

- Congresswoman Chisholm.

- Walter.

- It sure is good to see you.

May I get you a menu?

No, I won't be staying that long.

Oh That's too bad.

A meal is so much better

when it's enjoyed with friends.


Well, Shirley.

What can I say?

It's a shame

you didn't do better in Florida.


But my, my. You did get 4% of the vote.

Well, almost 4%.

- Could have used a few more endorsements.

- Mmm.

The whole Congressional Black Caucus,

and the only ones I have behind me

are Mitchell, Conyers, and Dellums.


I can hardly endorse you

when I'm running myself.

As a favorite son candidate

in the district, that's it, Walter.

You here, and Stokes in Ohio.

That don't add up to much.

But you want to tell the people,

our people, who should represent them.

You're no better

than the fat cat white boys.


I made the march, Selma to Montgomery.

I learned lessons of the flesh

on the front lines with Martin.

So I'd appreciate

if you didn't suppose about me for me.

How can I help you, Walter?

I want you

to drop out of the primary in DC.


- Ron warned me.

- Ron Dellums is a West Coast dilettante.

Willie Brown is the power in California.

Don't let Ron get in your head.

Now, if you stay in the primary,

you and me are only gonna

end up splitting the vote.

Splitting the delegates

doesn't help you, doesn't help me.

And the best way for me to help you

is for me to drop out?

[Walter] Only in DC,

where I'm on the ballot.

Now, you and me both know

the nomination for president

isn't gonna be decided

in the first round at the convention.

Now, after that first round,

after I get my pound of flesh

out of the Democratic Party,

I will release all my delegates to you

with the instruction to vote

as you tell them to vote.

I swear to God, Walter.

Just more backroom politics.

Nothing wrong with politics

when you're a politician.

[scoffs lightly]

After the first round,

you will get all my delegates.

You literally have my word.

Now, do I have yours?

I said yes.

What else was I supposed to say?

He made sense. He gave me his word.

I just don't

[exhales] Look.

Walter's a good man,

but Walter's always going

So you think I made a mistake.

Walter has a tendency to disappoint,

and when it happens, it happens.

That's all. [chuckles]

I got my ears open, Shirley.

If I hear anything you should know,

I will be the first one to tell you.

- [Shirley] Thank you, Ron.

- [Ron] Of course.

Of course.

You just worry

about being the next president.


[Robert] So I need to get out the vote.

[Mac] If you want to mobilize students

on the campuses, you need to

- I'll tell you what my answer is.

- Before you say no...

- [Shirley] I already said no.

- How many could we get?

Well, how many do we need?

- [Stan] You told me "I'll think about it."

- As many as we can get.

And I thought about it.

Jesse Jackson will be there.

Louis Farrakhan. Bobby Seale

- They weren't gonna endorse me.

- [Mac] How do you spell that?

- P-O-M-O-N-A.

- [Shirley] They'll never endorse me.

Shirley, you need some traction.

You need to capitalize on your deal

with Walt Fauntroy.

If you're looking for an endorsement,

when I get back to California,

I could maybe talk

to the people with the Black Panthers.

Oh Jesus. Yeah, let's bring

the radicals on board.

That'll play great in the Midwest.

- Shirley...

- Thank you.

The guy who, um,

created Star Trek actually went there.

Not... Not even joking.

- this event in Gary

- Stanley, I am not going.

[sighs deeply]

- [door shuts]

- [phone ringing]

Um, Barbara.

Let her have her lunch, please.


[Robert] Yeah

- [Mac] You know what? So

- [Robert] So, we're going to California.

Five thousand.

Barbara. Barbara. Barb...!

- Shirley, I want to go to the convention.

- I told her you were eating.

It's all right, Arthur.

I want to go to the convention in Gary.

- I can I can be your representative.

- No.

I want to do something big

for this campaign before I go to Oakland.

- Stanley said that you have to be there.

- I don't have to do anything.

Why don't you want to go?

What are you so afraid of?

Little girl.

Sit down.

Sit down.

Let me tell you something

about this convention.

They don't have

one single Black woman invited to speak.

Not one. Not Coretta.

Betty Shabazz, they got her

introducing Jesse Jackson.

They have made it clear they don't care

what Black women have to say.

They just

- That's just how they are.

- "They"?

Men, always plottin' and plannin'.

I see these men and the games they play.

Black, white, they're all nothing

but hard-mout goats.



I slip into my Bajan roots

when I lose my religion.

[chuckles lightly]

Politics makes you do that?


I don't think politics is for me.

[Shirley exhales deeply]

[Mac] Shirley!

We need to talk.

- She has to go on.

- We need to talk to Shirley.

Mac, we've got

an auditorium full of students.

Tell them she'll be out.

We need to talk to Shirley.

[sighs softly]

The networks just came out

with their debate schedules.

You're not on them. None of them.

They're saying

you don't meet the threshold...

Whose threshold?

We were counting on these debates.

They don't consider you...

I filled out my paperwork.

I've entered primaries.

I'm polling above Lindsay,

McCarthy, Yorty.

The networks don't care.

- No other way to see it.

- Mrs. C, you have to go on.

[light applause in distance]

Sue them.

[pensive music plays]

Sue the networks?

FCC mandates broadcasters

provide equal opportunity

for any opposing political candidates.


So, you get a lawyer,

you get some paperwork,

and you remind the networks

that their licenses come

with a legal obligation.

[whimsical instrumental music plays]

We got no money for a campaign,

but we're gonna sue the networks.

- [Shirley] Hello.

- [applause]

- What's going on? What did I miss?

- [Shirley] Hello. Thank you.

[Shirley speaking in distance]

Aren't you a lawyer?

I'm studying to be a lawyer. What? Why?

- [man] You wanna sue the networks?

- [Robert] Yes.

[man] The three pillars of

the Fourth Estate? ABC, NBC, CBS?

Yeah. They're in violation

of their mandate, all three of them are.

And them doing business as usual

just doesn't cut it. Not in this election.

Look, you try to take on the big three,

the money, the lawyers they have,

that whole scene,

you're gonna lose in court,

which is good.

- That's good?

- It's good.

No one's ever challenged

how the mandate's applied.

If you lose, the case goes

to appellate court.

You win there, if you can win there,

you codify equal time as law, for like

[chuckling softly] Forever.

But if we lose the appeal,

then nothing gets better,

and we've made the whole situation worse.

You'll have made it a lot worse. So

Before you take this to court,

make sure you've got a good case.

You'd better make sure

you have a hell of a case.


["Starving Child" by Musi-O-Tunya playing]

Yeah, yeah

Oh, I've seen this starving child

A day ago

In my library

Yeah, yeah

[bell jangling at door]

["Starving Child" continues faintly]

I ordered you tea.

The New York Times

is going to do a profile piece on me.

They would like to speak to the family.

They would like to know

that you support me.

Some things go without saying.

In politics, some things need to be said.

[exhales deeply]

What is it you're doing

with this campaign?

All people do, Shirley,

they talk about you.

They say you're crazy.

I don't care what they say.

Because you're not the one

that has to hear it.

You're not the one people ask,

"What's wrong with your sister?"

"How come your sister bad behave?"

We don't do these things, but you...

- "We"?

- But you going...

Black women?

- You gonna humiliate yourself. Us.

- The St. Hill sisters?

You just

It's just how Papa raised you.

[scoffs, chuckles]

- It's the truth.

- Hmm.

So I don't blame you.

No, you blame our father.

He had four daughters.


But when he d*ed,

he left you the little money he had.

You were treated differently.

And now you think

Now you think you're special.

That's how Papa was with you.

He made you believe things.

They aren't true.

He made me believe in myself.

Regardless of what people think...

You have no regard?

You don't care what

this campaign does to your friends?

- I can do what is necessary.

- Family? That's what Papa would want?

You are pushing us away over nothing.


Muriel, is that

what you think my campaign is?

Is that all it is to you?


Nothing is what you make

the rest of us feel like.

No, Shirley.

We won't be talking

to the newspaper people.

[bell jangling]

["Starving Child" continues faintly]

["Think (About It)"

by Lyn Collins playing]

All right

[overlapping chatter]

I'm laying my cards on the table

When it comes to taking care of me

I know I'm able

You may not call it true

Come on, y'all. Don't be cheap.

This is for Shirley.

The next president

of these United g*dd*mn States!

[all cheering]

So think about the good things

- Come on!

- Come on

- Hey, yeah

- [song ends]

[phones ringing]

- [Shirley] How much did they get?

- About 1,800 altogether.

And it was all small donations.

Five dollars, two dollars.

They show up,

claim to be from the Chisholm campaign,

throw a party,

pour the liquor, steal the donations.

- [Mac] People want their money back.

- I don't blame them.

- They want their money back from us.

- [Robert] From the campaign?

We didn't steal the money.

Somebody did, but we're taking the blame.

[Stan] Jesus!

I'm done.

This isn't a campaign.

It's a joke.

You have no organization.

You have no infrastructure.

You got people stealing

out from under your noses.

Stanley, come on, now.

This magical voter coalition

doesn't exist.

When this blows all up,

the only thing anybody's gonna remember

is that there were a bunch of Black folks

who made fools of themselves.

Honest to God,

if you had any self-respect...

If you got with the program, instead of...

I don't need an Ivy League white boy

givin' me lip!

Wait a g*dd*mn minute!

- Who the hell you think you talkin' to?

- It's not worth it!

- You're pathetic.

- Stanley.

- You're an embarrassment.

- Stanley. Stanley!

Can we talk, please?


Yeah, of course.

[quietly] I'm sorry.

Shirley, I am sorry, but somebody has

got to be the one to tell these people...

Who the hell do you think you are,

talking to my people like that?

They're not your servants.

They're giving their time.

You're drawing a check,

but you got too much mout

to do how you get paid.

Got plaster for every sore.

Well, since you can't do,

let me relieve your load.

You're done.

- Woman, you are your own worst...

- Enough! The dog dead!


[tuts, sucks teeth]


[somber music playing]

[soft knocking]

- [Shirley] Thank you.

- You're welcome. You all right?

[Shirley] I'm fine.

Where are they, Arthur?

I was there for white women.

Why can't they support me?

Same with Black men.

Where are they?

They'll come.


Barely two months left to the convention.

I'm running out of time.

Too sentimental.

I really am. I

just see what's going on

in the world, and it's

The agony of people, it moves me.

It moves me.

I Conrad says

I'm not gonna live to see 55.

Says I'm just too into this thing,

and I know I am.

He's right.


But it's deep with me.

It's intense. I

[sighs] I see too much sufferin'.

And these politicians around here,

they they don't care.

They don't care.

They just don't care.

And I don't know how to not try.

I believe in people. I do. I...

I'm not naive.

[Arthur] You're not realistic either.

If you thought that

everything you were gonna have to do

was gonna be easy

I mean, what do you wanna do?

Wanna quit the campaign?

End of the day,

it comes down to one of two choices.

You either fight the fight

or quit the race.

And if you gonna quit the race,

get it done with,

and stop complaining about it.


Is this you being encouraging?

If you really are done

with all of this mess,

I'm not gonna blame you,

and nobody else can.

People say I'm crazy.

Am I crazy?

[Arthur] Yes.

But maybe that's what it takes

to make a difference in this world.

And, by some slim chance,

you make it down in Miami,

I'mma be right there with you.

And I hope to God it happens.

[gentle music playing]

Thank you, Arthur.

Thank you for making us believe.

That's what matters.

[door shuts]

- [Shirley] You all right?

- [Robert] Yeah, I'm just, you know, I'm

I'm really worried about

this FCC ruling the court handed down.

Isn't that what your man said

is likely to happen?

That we'd lose in court,

and then we'd take it to an appeal.

Yeah. I mean, he also said that,

you know, if we lose the appeal,

then the whole thing gets worse.

Eh, what's going to happen

is going to happen.

- What?

- [chuckling] I'm

Sorry. What's going to happen

is going to happen?

Mrs. C that doesn't sound

anything like you.

I mean, you're the one

You're the one who told me to

not accept things the way that they are.

And I meant it.

Yes. So everything makes a difference.

If I let you down,

if the appeal goes wrong

- How are you letting me down?

- Not just you.

So many people are gonna be

massively impacted.

- You are putting in the work.

- It's not a small thing.

- [sirens wail]

- [tires screech]

- Shirley Chisholm?

- Don't move!

- Right there! Let me see your hands!

- What?

Do you understand me? Do not move!

Don't tell me Do not tell me what to do.

I'm not talking to you.

I'm talking to him. Is he threatening you?


No. He works with me.

Why are you asking me this?

Ma'am, they just sh*t George Wallace.

[somber music plays]

- [g*nshots f*ring]

- [woman screaming]

Five sh*ts, point-blank.

It was a white boy that sh*t him.

- Chickens come home to roost.

- And he lived.

Wallace is a tough son of a bitch.

[Mac] Nixon's going to visit him

in the hospital.

[Arthur] Nixon would make him

his vice president if he could.

[Mac] What makes you think he won't?

I want to go visit him.

I want to visit Wallace.

I don't think it's a good idea.

I know it's not a good idea.

Nixon is gonna visit him.

McGovern's going. Humphrey...

They're signifying.

White men who wouldn't mind

getting a few of Wallace's voters.


Don't you know what it would mean

for you to go visit that man?

I know what it means

to have somebody try to take your life.

I know that.

Do you know what it would mean

to your base?

To Blacks, young people, progressives?

- The man is a stone-cold r*cist!

- "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow."

What does it say about you

when you ignore that?

What does it say about me as a Christian?

You are not running for Pope.

You're running for president.

All this, everything we put together,

and you want to throw it away

over Wallace?


You hired me to be your advisor.

That's hard as hell to do

when you won't listen

to the advice I give.

But you are still

going to advise me, right?


I'll talk to him.

[gentle music playing]

[notes playing softly]

[Shirley] What are the doctors saying?

Well I'll live.

So there's that.

But, uh

sh*t me in the spine.

I will spend the rest of my days

looking at the world from a wheelchair.

Where do these people come from, Shirley?

I suppose it's the hate that hate creates.

It is not fair to lecture a man

who has got nowhere to go to.

Oh [sighs]

George [sighs]

I wouldn't wish this on anyone.


I've been where you are.

Had somebody try and take my life.

So close to God calling me home.

But I know he spared me for a reason.

And I believe the same for you.

Now, what that reason is Why?

Maybe Maybe he wanted you to

It's not for me to say.

But you have an opportunity.

To keep on how you've been

or be more than what you were.

And you better figure it out quick.

'Cause the next time,

the good Lord may not be satisfied

with taking just half of you.

God is surrounding you.

May his light always guide you

and keep you safe in his arms.

In Jesus's name.


[sobbing shakily] Well

You keep praying for me, Shirley.

Always have.

[gentle music playing]

[indistinct chatter]

[newsman] George Wallace

had an unlikely visitor today,

political opponent Shirley Chisholm.

The New York congresswoman was

one of the most unexpected visitors

to pass through this morning

to visit the Alabama governor.

One of the b*ll*ts is still lodged

You believe this sh*t?

And she's supposed to be Black.

his staunch segregationist and

populist views, seems like the last person

the congresswoman

would want to offer condolences to.

[Mac] I think we've got to ask this point,

do we want to go on?

Well, the question really is,

can we go on?

I think we have to be realistic.

Two months left in the primaries,

Dr. Wallace, if he stays

in the race, and McGovern.

There's just, for us,

no path to the presidency.

My numbers are improving.

Less than 3% of the vote

in Maryland and Michigan.

Better than less than 1%

in Wisconsin, but...

If I can't get the nomination,

I can still get delegates.

[Mac] Shirley.

And if we can control

some of the delegates,

we can still force change

at the convention.

Get delegates from where?

All that's left on the map

Oregon's for McGovern. We know that.

We're not even on the ballot

in Rhode Island, South Dakota...

But there is California.

California is winner take all.

But what if we win California?

[Mac] Shirley, you said yourself

it'd be a waste of time.

I'd do whatever it takes

to compete in California.

It takes money.

Do you have money? Because we need money.

- We can get money.

- [Mac] We Jesus.

Look, even if we enter the primary,

how do we get traction?

Who wants to back you?

Now, come on, Mac.

- I am just being realistic.

- Yeah, I know. But come on.

[Mac sighs deeply]

You want to do this?

We'll figure it out.

But at this point,

without something

that's going to make some noise

[laughter on television]

Well, then, no, if that's it

Were they colored?

- Yeah, white.

- [audience laughs]

[Shirley] Our total expenses

for the campaign have been $215,000.

Our liabilities,

outstanding debts bills

Twenty-six thousand.

Our payroll, if we keep it really tight,

2,000 a week.

Our cash on hand?

We don't have any cash on hand,

so to have enough money

to pay all our obligations

and keep the campaign going

throughout the California primary,

we need about $36,000.

Where are we supposed to get $36,000?

[Shirley] I have my congressional salary.

[Conrad sighs]

We already put in 20,000 of our own money.

Now you want to put in

another 36,000 on top?

Wh... Why are you doing this?

Why go on? I don't understand what...


People walking out on you,

giving up on you.

I don't understand why you want

to keep going out there alone.

- Torturing yourself.

- I'm not alone.

There are people who put their blood

and sweat into what we're doing.

What would you have me tell them?

"Fight, but not too much?"

- Why do it?!

- Because it's my money!

It's my money!

[chatter on TV continues indistinctly]

[footsteps receding]

- [light clattering]

- [faint rustling]

[footsteps approaching]


[Conrad] You're right.

It is your money.

It's your campaign.

So, why even pretend to care

about what I think?

[audience laughing on television]

[exhales deeply]

[applause on television]

We sure appreciate you

getting the word out to everybody.

Do whatever I can.

Get the people to vote.

Every delegate coming to the convention,

that's a voice

for equal rights, civil rights.

That can't happen without you.

Fight the fight, Shirley. Finish the race.

- Thank you.

- Yes.

- God bless you.

- We gotta get you across town.

We got two more churches to get to

and a fundraiser that Mac and Conrad

have been greasing them

until we get you there.

Then you got

the rest of the day to yourself.

- Arthur.

- I'll get the cab.


[Muriel] Not staying for services?

Well, I have some campaigning to do.

You're staying in the race?

Well, I still think there are good things

we can do at the convention.

Muriel, I hate that you and Mother

have to listen to other people.

I don't want that for you.

I don't want that for anybody.


Have a good Sunday.

Muriel, I don't think I'm special.

I don't. I'm just how I am.

And I don't know any other way to be.

I'm sorry.

[sighs softly]


[sighs softly]

[somber music playing]

[Robert] Thank you so, so, so much.

Okay. Bye-bye.

[up-tempo music builds]

We got the judgment

from the appellate court.

They ruled in our favor.

ABC has to include you in the debate,

and because we missed the one on CBS,

they're giving you a half hour

on air to yourself.

- Hot diggity dog!

- [Mac laughs]

- You did it.

- Boy's gonna make a hell of a lawyer.

Wait, no. I didn't do this all by myself.

The folks over at the Media Access...

Robert, good job.

- [chuckles]

- Thank you.

[Shirley and Mac laughing]

Good work.

You did it.

What has kept me in this election

is that I am willing to fight the fight,

irrespective of the odds that I face.

The only reason I am sitting here now

is because I am unwilling

to to accept the inequality

imposed by the so-called liberal media.

- It's Barbara Lee.

- Thank you.


Yes. Barbara. How are you?

[Barbara] I'm all right. Saw you on TV.

Sounds like you're gonna

go through California.

Well, we're considering options.

[interviewer] Do you believe California

can make a difference for your campaign?

The largest delegate count of any state?

Of course it can make a difference.

[Barbara] Look, I told you that I wanted

to do something to help the campaign.

Something big. I spoke to Chairman Newton.

He wants to meet you.

Wait, little girl. Slow down.

Chairman Huey Newton

of the Black Panther Party.

He's willing to try to get

the Black Panther party to endorse you.

But the meeting

needs to be on neutral territory.

And what does he consider neutral

for a congresswoman and a Panther?

He'll do it at Diahann Carroll's house.

Diahann Carroll?

[hesitates] The actress?

She looks like an angel but she fights

like the devil for civil rights.

Huey thinks that he can get the BPP

to give you an endorsement.

When it comes to this election,

every voice deserves to be heard.

Not just some people, all of the people.

Right the hell on.

And after what you just did to the FCC,

a Panther endorsement?

People are gonna notice.

They're gonna have to notice.


[Shirley] This will be the most open

Democratic Convention this country's seen.

Nobody's gonna get through

on the first ballot.

[yelping, laughing]

["Four-Letter Words"

by Miriam Makeba playing]

- Barbara.

- [Barbara] Diahann.

- Mmm.

- Mm.

I would like you

to please meet Mrs. Shirley Chisholm.

Mrs. Chisholm.

Shirley, please.

It is an honor, Shirley.

Nothing short of an honor.


Come on. Let's wait out back.

Huey isn't here yet.

Really? Caught traffic.

Was afraid we'd keep you waiting.

Panthers, they run on CP time.

They'll be late to their own revolution.

[all chuckling]

She's funny. [chuckles]


- Yes, let's get you out of the sun.

- Mmm.

[song ends]


Ms. Carroll...

If you're "Shirley," then I'm "Diahann."

I truly appreciate

you facilitating this meeting.

Darling, bringing together

the Black Panthers and Shirley Chisholm,

it's like marrying thunder and lightning.

[chuckles lightly]

[sighs] Oh Hmm.

It is lovely here.

Beautiful house.

Thank you.

Certainly cost enough.

Money well spent.

Oh, it's not about the money.

In Hollywood,

they throw money at you for nothing.

The more money, the more nothing.

This house, I bought it after I did Julia.

Mmm That was a remarkable program.


When I did that show, 1968,

the first Black woman to have

her own prime-time network program,

playing a nurse, a professional

The letters that I used to get

from some folks.

Know what they hated the most?

There was no man in Julia's life.

[Shirley] Hmm.

She was on her own,

raising her son by herself,

and getting by.


And for a lot of men, when they see

a woman on her own, doing for herself...

I can't speak to your profession,

but in mine [scoffs]

Men are so used to being in control

that equality, to them, feels like chaos.


Well, it is still a beautiful home.

- Oh Isn't it, though?

- Mmm.

- Diahann.

- [Diahann] Hmm.

Get ready for a little chaos.


Come on over.

I would like you to meet

Mrs. Shirley Chisholm.



Thunder and lightning.

[sighs softly]


[Shirley clears throat]

I've come to California

'cause I'm seeking your endorsement.

- Why?

- Why do I want your endorsement?

Why do you think we would give it?

What did you say about us? The, uh

"The Black Panther Party is shameful."

[Shirley] That's not what I said.

I said, "It's a shame

the Black Panther Party is necessary,

but I understand why it's needed."

It is needed to stand against ofays like

George Wallace, who you broke bread with.

I'd break bread with the devil

if it made him more Christian.

You understand that there is

a revolution going on?

And And that the government that runs

this system is an inherently corrupt one?

But if you burn down the empire,

all that's left to rule over are ashes.

Democracy works. If it didn't,

we wouldn't be having this conversation.

You call brothers and sisters

getting b*at up, sh*t,

choked to death by the police...

Exactly. And they need

to be held accountable.

And I'm going to force all the politicians

to earn the vote that we secured

with our rent flesh and spilt blood.

From Birmingham

all the way up to Binghamton.

You gonna do all that?

Schoolteacher from Brooklyn.

[scoffs, chuckles softly]

Yes, I am just a schoolteacher

from Brooklyn.

And Harriet was just a sl*ve.

Rosa was just a domestic.

What is it you do for a living again?

[percussive music playing]

The Black Panther Party

puts forth the call

to unite together to join

Sister Shirley Chisholm's campaign.

Shirley has stood up

in the face to racism,

denouncing the sufferance of Black

and poor people at every opportunity.

Shirley deserves to be president.

And she will be.

When we deliver to her

the state of California.

[Willie Brown] A place like California,

where it's a winner-take-all operation,

you're simply dissipating the potential

of Black delegate strength

at the convention if you come here

and try to run a Black

in a symbolic protest campaign,

and that's what Shirley Chisholm's

campaign will amount to.

[man 1] The winner-take-all votes, crucial

to the presidential nominating race.

[man 2] George McGovern won

California's Democratic primary.

He got 44% of the vote.

Hubert Humphrey got 39%.

And other candidates got the rest.

The others, Muskie, Jackson,

Chisholm, Wallace, Yorty,

got a scattering few percent each.

But that gave McGovern

all 271 delegate votes.

And it's put him well on the way

to a first ballot nomination in Miam...

[somber music plays]


Shirley, this is Oly Clark

with the Muskie campaign,

and Arnold Pinkney, with Senator Humphrey.

Ms. Chisholm, may we offer you

Appreciate you coming in, Mrs. Chisholm.

How are you holding up?

I'm feeling pretty well.

Would have been better

if one of your candidates

had cared to drop out of the race.

We could say the same about you.

You run a good campaign, Mrs. Chisholm.

A real good one.

[Mac sighs]

Shirley, I think we're all disappointed

with the results in California.

- Not just McGovern winning...

- If you can call it winning.

He didn't carry the state,

but he gets all the delegates.

Winner take all.

Those were the rules before the primary.

They were the rules when the people voted.

Not sure there's much

that can be done about it.

We think that there is.

We think we can make the case

to the Credentials Committee

that what happened in California

was not a democratic process,

and that the delegates

be awarded proportionally.

And we would like your campaign

to join us in the motion.

[Shirley inhales deeply]

You all are k*lling me.

Now you're worried about being fair.

Vote doesn't go your way,

you just change the rules.

When you work on a skunk farm,

you can't complain when the sh*t stinks.

And right now, it stinks.

Do you want McGovern's campaign

to control the entire convention?

What exactly is the benefit to us?

[Oly] You came in fourth in California.

You should be entitled

to some of those delegates.

And with the 28 you already have...

Senator Humphrey has asked me to relay

that he'd be willing to have

his Black delegates defer to you.

I understand you have arrangements

with Walter Fauntroy and Ron Dellums.

[Oly] Altogether, you would go into the

convention controlling over 150 delegates.

McGovern only has 762 pledged delegates,

and he needs 1,500 to get the nomination.

I don't want to speak ill...

I would expect he would do

whatever it takes to get those delegates.

Whatever it takes.

[Oly] We work together, we can keep him

from getting it on the first ballot.

If I support your suit.

[pensive music plays]

[Mac] If you do this, Shirley,

if you take this to Miami,

they will come at you.

[exhales deeply]

[man] Reporting from CBS News Convention

Headquarters in Miami Beach,

here is correspondent Walter Cronkite.

[Cronkite] The anti-McGovern

forces got together,

and they've challenged the legality

of the winner-take-all primary.

They claim that it, in effect,

denied all those millions

who voted for candidates other than

McGovern a voice in the convention.

So now, tonight, when Mrs. Pat Harris,

chairman of the Credentials Committee,

presents her report, there will be

a minority report on California.

That's a challenge to not seat

the Humphrey and other delegates,

but to give those 151 seats

back to McGovern's people.

with my 271-man delegation,

and cast the votes

of that unanimous 271-man delegation.

And I don't think I deserve any less!

We obeyed the law!

The first time!

Seat my delegation!

I did it for you in Mississippi in '64.

In Georgia in '68.

And it's now California in '72.

I deserve no less.

Give me back my delegation!

Willie Brown is going crazy.

What in the hell did McGovern promise him?

Secretary of Housing.

That's all they ever give Black folks.

- Secretary of Housing.

- Any word on McGovern's camp?

They're not interested

in making concessions at this time.

Why would McGovern make a deal

for delegates? He'll steal them.

Conrad, did you call down to maintenance?

They said there's nothing wrong

with the air conditioner.

Nothing wrong? They're all from Florida.

They don't know what good weather is.

[Mac] Shirley

Willie Brown is playing games.

This luncheon for the Black delegates

You've got a coalition, Shirley.

Your delegates, Muskie's,

Humphrey's, Fauntroy's.

But you've got to keep them

from breaking for McGovern.

You need to bring

the Black delegates to Jesus.

Get them together and hold them together.


It's so warm.

[MC] Let's continue on with our program.

Our next speaker

Well, hell, you all know her.

She is the only Black woman crazy enough

to run for president

of these United States.

Give a warm welcome

for Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm.

[scattered clapping]

[Shirley] Good afternoon.

Well this is something.

Isn't it?

[hushed chattering]

[Shirley] Look around this room today.

Go ahead. Look around.

Four years ago, less than 2%

of the delegates

at the Democratic Convention were Black.

Today there are 452 of you.

[hushed chatter]

[sparse applause]

[Shirley] There are people here

promising you this, promising you that.

Well, my brothers and sisters,

let me tell it to you this afternoon

like it really is.

- [man 1] All right, now.

- [man 2] Right.

[Shirley] The only thing you have going,

my brothers and sisters

There's only one thing you've got going.

Your one vote.

- [man 3] All right.

- [applause]

Don't sell that vote out!

The Black people of America

are watching us.

Find out what these candidates who

need our votes to get across the top

are going to do

for us concretely, not rhetorically.

[man 4] Yeah! All right!

- [excited chatter]

- [applause builds]

[Shirley] As I look at the faces

of the Black youth of this country

as I went from one place to another,

and they said, "Chisholm,

we know what you're going through."

"We know how rough and how tough,

but we know that you have the courage,

and the balls, and the audacity

to shake this system up

within the system."

- [audience] Yeah!

- But I need your help to do it.

Hold on to your vote.

Hold on to your vote!

[excited chatter]

- [cheering]

- [applause swells]

[bittersweet instrumental music plays]

- [music fades out]

- [woman] Sixty-one, 62, 63, 64, 65

Twenty-one Louisiana delegates

are switching their pledge to you,

- Twelve from Mississippi.

- If they are switching, I'll take them.

I have 23 switching from Ohio,

nine from Pennsylvania,

and two from Florida.

They were originally pledged to Wallace.

Muskie's keeping his name

in the first round of balloting,

but he's directing

his Black delegates to vote for you.

Hey. Humphrey's dropping out.

- [Barbara] What?

- [Arthur] He withdrew?

He's dropping out

and releasing all his delegates.

To who? McGovern?

Like he promised, he's telling all

his Black delegates to vote for you.

With Humphrey's delegates,

California's, Fauntroy's, you have almost

Two hundred and fifty delegates

pledged to you.

So McGovern can't get

the nomination in the first round.

- Ahh!

- [woman screams]


[all cheering and clapping]


[man] Let's do this!

Robert! Robert, hold on. Hold on. Hold on.

We have not done anything yet.

You get on the phone to McGovern's people.

And you tell them if he wants my delegates

then he'd better start talking about

what's going into the platform,

who he's going to appoint,

to what cabinet positions.


[Shirley exhales]

Thank you.

I'm going to get something to eat.

Can't conquer the world

on an empty stomach!

[knocking on door]


Senator McGovern's

very excited to see you.

- Can I get you a drink?

- Thank you.

and then to get 250 delegates

at the last moment?

- Whoo!

- [woman] What was he gonna do?

[Barbara] I did not expect him to keep

[man on TV] Mr. Abernathy,

why are you on the floor?

[Abernathy] Well, we're out here

fighting the cause for poor people.

As you know, one fourth

of our people are poor in the country,

And I'm fighting that struggle

Hello, it's Shirley.

I got your message.

[man on TV continues indistinctly]

Not that busy. Would've taken the call.

Well, we didn't quite get there,

but we did okay.

[gentle music plays]

We're gonna do some good things here.

Some really good things.

[Muriel] I'm proud

of the things you did do.

Mom and I are watching the news.

You done well, Shirley.

You done really well.

Pop was right.

You are special.

I love you.


I love you too.

[exhales softly]

[gentle music continues]

- [sighs softly]

- [receiver clatters]

[receiver clatters]

[sighs softly]

[breathes deeply]

Shirley? Come here.

CBS News. They want a statement.

[Conrad] Now they want a statement.

They had seven months.

Now they want a statement.

- I have a statement for you!

- Conrad.

- I'll give you a statement!

- [laughter]

This is Congresswoman Chisholm.

And where did you hear that?

Then I would say

that your sources are wrong,

and I have no further comment.

[Mac] What?

They're asking for my response

on Walter Fauntroy

releasing his delegates to McGovern.

- What?

- Walter wouldn't release his delegates.

- That's McGovern's campaign trying to...

- It's not coming from McGovern's campaign.

There's more than one person saying it.

Find Walter.

[Shirley] Walter.

Are you releasing

your delegates to McGovern?

- Shirley, hold on...

- Answer me.

- Can you give us a minute?

- They don't need to go anywhere.

Yes or no?

Yes, I'm giving my delegates to McGovern.

- Backstabber.

- No need for all of that.

We had an agreement.

You promised your delegates to me.

I told you I'd give you my delegates if

the voting went beyond the first ballot.

McGovern's going to have all he needs.

He's getting my delegates, Willie's...

Ugh, you and Willie are weak.

Selling out your own

for scraps off the table.

Trying to make sure

we don't get four more years of Nixon.

McGovern can't win over the party.

What makes you think

he can win this election?

You can fold if you want,

but the rest of us, we're fightin'.

[Walter scoffs] Rest of who?

All the Black delegates

are going to McGovern.

Mm-hmm. Yeah. Your man, Ron Dellums.

He's telling all the Black delegates

to get behind McGovern.

- Yours too.

- [Shirley scoffs]

I tried to warn you about him, Shirley.

I tried!

The Black delegates

at this convention have a mandate

from their people

not to support Shirley Chisholm.

[man] Shirley Chisholm doesn't have

a chance. Blacks, on the first vote,

are going to vote in terms

of meaningful political responsibility.

- [newsman] So the reaction was

- Sentimental.

- [newsman] Will not have political effect?

- No political effect whatever.

- [Conrad] I'm looking for Ron Dellums.

- I'm looking for Congressman Ron Dellums.

Congressman Ronald Dellums.

- I need to find Ron.

- I need you to find Ron Dellums.

- [overlapping chatter]

- I asked for Congressman Dellums.

- You told me

- to Shirley, and now going to McGovern.

- Mrs. C.

- Did you find Ron?

I looked everywhere I could think,

but nobody's seen him.

- Did you check McGovern's suite?

- They wouldn't let me in.

Go back down there.

No, I tried, but they wouldn't let me in.

You go back down there.

You get in the room.

Kick in the door if you have to.

Shirley, Ronald's on TV.

[Ron] Frankly, no other candidate

running for president could have.

It's through his vision for this party

that we've seen the beginnings

of a very powerful movement

in this country.

A movement that has

just realized its potential power.

Yet, at this moment cynical,

even diabolical forces are moving to stop

the candidacy of Senator George McGovern.

Now, we have to ignore

the dreamers and the fools,

and get behind a candidate

who actually has the ability

to win the election in November.

That is why I am giving

my full endorsement

to Senator George McGovern.

[sighs deeply]

[somber music playing]

A man who has the extraordinary ability

to lead this party into the future.

Start working the phones.

Get to every delegate you can.

They cannot break away.

I don't care what McGovern's

promising Dellums. He can't.

- Go!

- Put out a statement.

- Ronald's got another thing coming.

- I need you to put out a statement.

And release my delegates.

- No. Don't do this.

- Release?

- Shirley. No, we can still find a way...

- No. Mac.


I owe you everything.

But right now, I need you to do as I ask.

Put out a statement.

Release my delegates.


I'll call the DNC.



[exhales deeply]

[somber music faces out]

[Barbara sobs softly]

Well we had something.

Maybe just for a second, but

we had something.

- I hate him.

- Mmm.

- I hate Dellums.

- No.

Ron was just doing what he had to do.

[crying] I'm not mad at him.

I understand the pressures

and everything that man was going through.

He stood out for so long.

And for me, when everybody

was ridiculing him and what have you, and

[breathes deeply]

I want you all to know

there are no bad feelings.

You find Ron,

and you tell him to come home to Shirley.


You don't owe him a thing.

I owe him forgiveness.


You find him,

and you tell him to come home.

[exhales shakily]


I dragged you kids

all the way down to Florida.

[chuckles softly]

[Barbara] It wasn't for nothing.

All the reasons that any of us had

to come down to this convention,

we all came for the best one. [inhales]

[crying] We came for you.

[quietly] Then keep on.

[gentle music plays]

If I can't get there today,

you have to believe

you can get there tomorrow.

And if the best I was able to do

is to remind people what's possible

then I'm thankful.

[breathes deeply]

[crying] Thank you, Shirley.

Thank you so much.

[Shirley] Thank you.


[chuckling sob]

Chairman O'Brien is on the extension.




[exhales deeply]

This is Shirley Chisholm.

I'm going to make a statement

that I'd like for you to give

to my pledged delegates.

My intention over the last seven months

has been to remind people

that politics in America belongs to them.

I have wanted to be nothing more,

nothing less, than a catalyst for change.

[gentle music fades out]

[uplifting music playing]

[woman] Shirley Chisholm,

she opened the door for all of us.

For women of color,

and especially for Black women.

She opened that door for everybody,

and she gave everybody the confidence

that they too could run

and that they too had a voice.

My name is Barbara Lee.

I represent the 13th

Congressional District of California,

as a member of Congress.

What Shirley Chisholm

tried to do was teach us

not only do you have to fight

to help people now,

but you have to fight

to change this madness.

Her legacy is directly connected to today.

And so many of us have felt like

we could take that baton and keep running.


["Why I'm Here" by Samara Joy plays]





But never broken

Knocked down

But I keep going

I decided to stand my ground

I will not be moved

And I have no fear

I know why I'm here


An easy road

Was never promised

And so much

Has been taken from us

But I won't stop

No matter how much I have to go through

I won't shed one tear

I know why I'm here


The future is in our hands

Now's the time to stand

Together we'll pave the way

Those who walk by faith

With their heads held high

Have the power to change



But I can't be broken

I've been knocked down

But I choose to keep going

I decided to stand my ground

I will not be moved

And I have no fear

So, don't you shed one tear

'Cause I know why

I'm here






["Why I'm Here" instrumental continues]

[choir vocalizing]



[choir singing] Ooh, in our hands

Time to stand



Those who walk by faith

Heads held high

The power to change

The world


Can't be broken

Knocked down

I keep going

I decided to stand my ground

I will not be moved

[choir vocalizing]

["Why I'm Here" instrumental playing]

[pensive percussive music playing]

[music peaks and fades out]
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