Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

Chisholm ’72: Unbought & Unbossed
Director: Shola Lynch
Seen on: 22.1.2019

Content Note: racism, sexism, misogynoir (all framed critically)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first Black woman elected in the US Congress. Four years later, she was the first Black woman to run for President of the USA for the Democratic Party. But her candidacy wasn’t just a remarkable achievement, it was also greeted by a lot of resistance, and she had to face obstacles that a white, male candidate never had to face.

I have to admit that I had never even heard of Shirley Chisholm before this documentary, so it was a very welcome way to fill that gap in my historical knowledge. That being said, I thought that the documentary could have been handled a little better.

The film poster that is all red with Chisholm's face on it in black.

Chisholm must have been an awesome woman, to fight her way to the political clout she had. And to think that she did so almost 50 years ago, and we still haven’t seen a Black woman as president in the USA goes to show how slow things progress sometimes. In that sense, the film confirmed many things that “one knows”, confirming how absolutely biased we are against women, Black people and Black women in particular.

As I wasn’t aware at all of Chisholm, of course the film did not just confirm some things for me, but I also learned a ton of new things about her and about her candidacy and the circumstances surrounding it all. And that was definitely very interesting.

Shirley Chisholm, her arms raised, making victory signs, looking at the camera.

Unfortunately, though, I found the documentary itself a little unstructured and missing a clear narrative. Even though it isn’t particularly long, it started to drag a little – I think they could have made more of the entire story.

In any case, it’s a harsh indictment of white feminism – and that’s a good thing indeed. And does give you a nice idea of Chisholm as a person, her activism and her fight. So it’s still worth seeing and educating yourself on that.

Shirley Chisholm, her arms raised, making victory signs, looking at a crowd, her back to the camera.

Summarizing: interesting but could have been better.

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