Feed on

screenshots are gear“The institutions of this country belong to the people and we must regain control of our destiny!” Barack Obama was not the first African-American to run for the Presidency in this country. Among others, in 1972 a black woman from Brooklyn ran for the office; her name was Shirley Chisholm and she was from Bed-Stuy. Before that, Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to Congress, in 1968, serving until 1983.

This documentary— directed by Shola Lynch and originally aired on PBS in 2005— follows Shirley’s quixotic but inspiring effort all the way up to the Democratic convention, where her party chose George McGovern. Readers of Hunter S. Thompson’s excellent Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 know how that turned out. Interestingly, Shirley was not even endorsed by the Congressional Black Caucus and she sued ABC News for not giving her candicacy media coverage— and won!

Shirley Chisholm was a powerful, confident and urgent speaker and said what was logical and what needed to be said. “Change” was her mantra. Why’d she lose? Watch this documentary. Rating: 5 Acts of Defiance in the Face of Everyone and Everything? Lisanne McTernan 

shirleyMrs. Manicotti (ASC) adds: I have to admit, I slightly regretted giving Lisanneon loan from Found in Brooklynthis assignment so I was relieved she dug it. As a Brooklyn-native and someone who’s worked in film myself, I was initially thrilled to see Shirley on screen again and thought Lisanne would too. No question, Shirley is great but personally, I felt Unbought and Unbosssed dragged after a while, with too many similar talking heads, some pretty charismatic, like former Congressman Ron Dellums (now Mayor of Oakland), others rather less so. I also felt the film lacked real Brooklyn content, giving little sense of the context in which Shirley wasall the people! elected nor the hardhips or joys of her Bed-Stuy constituents. Strange things were happening, jack! It wasn’t all awful, it certainly wasn’t all ecstatic either. Finally, the film fails to suggest Shirley’s beloved place in hip-hop culture, beginning with Brooklyn-native Biz Markie giving props in 1988′s “Nobody Beats The Biz.” City kids like us know what that means— likewise genius nonsense such as Fudgie the Whale— although I forgot to ask Lisanne if she remembers how PBS would show Woodstock on Channel 13 during pledge week? (Maybe they still do.) Richie Havens, also of Bed-Stuy, and a tote bag, woo!

A native of Mill Street, Red Hook, and the first female President of the South Brooklyn Camera Club, Mrs. Manicotti voted for Swope. 

Leave a Reply