Butler, Warnock Commemorate Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm with Congressional Gold Medal and Statue

Washington D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.) and Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) introduced bipartisan legislation to honor Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968. Butler’s Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act and Warnock’s Shirley Chisholm Statue Act would instruct Congress to posthumously endow Chisholm with Congress’s highest award in commemoration of her accomplishments, activism, and legacy.

As only the 11th and 12th Black U.S. Senators, this legislation introduced by Senators Warnock and Butler reflects their commitment to uplifting the legacy and leadership of Black American public servants and changemakers who fought to form a more perfect union that lives up to its ideals of equal justice under law.

“Shirley Chisholm left a mark on our nation’s history that demands its own recognition,” said Senator Butler. “She was a trailblazer—the first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first to run for President—who opened doors for generations of Black women. It is my hope that the Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act honors her patriotism, leadership, and commitment to our nation. With her service to New York and our nation, she truly has earned it.”

“Shirley Chisholm broke barriers for Black women, Black Americans, and any American who refuses to be confined by injustice. As an educator, and a trailblazing Congresswoman and presidential candidate, she fought for an inclusive democracy, one that lives up to our nation’s highest ideals of equity and justice under law,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am proud to partner with Senator Butler to honor Chisholm’s “unbought and unbossed” legacy with a permanent statue of her likeness on Capitol Hill, and I will continue working to carry on her fight through my work in the Senate.”

Representative Shirley Chisholm was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 30, 1924. She graduated from Brooklyn College and went on to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University. Chisholm dedicated her entire career to service, working in education and social services before being elected as the second African American to the New York State Assembly in 1964. During her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and her run for President of the United States, Shirley Chisholm was an outspoken advocate for women and minorities through legislation and leadership. Nicknamed “Fighting Shirley”, she introduced 50 pieces of legislation and championed racial and gender equity, low-income communities, and the end of the Vietnam War. After a lifetime of service, Shirley Chisholm died at the age of 80 in Orlando Beach, Florida, on New Year’s Day 2005. The year 2024 would have marked Chisholm’s 100th birthday. On her impact, Chisholm said, “I want to be remembered as a woman … who dared to be a catalyst of change.”

The Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act would:

  • Instruct Congress to present the medal in commemoration of Chisholm’s legacy.
  • Posthumously award Chisholm with Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.
  • Instruct the Department of Treasury to strike the gold medal and create duplicates to be sold to the public and displayed via the Smithsonian Institution.

The Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act is co-sponsored by Senators: Warnock (D-Ga.), Booker ( D-N.J.), Smith (D-Minn.), Murray (D-Wash.), Warren (D-Mass.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sanders (I-Vt.), Collins (R-Maine), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kaine (D-Va.), and Padilla (D-Calif.). The bipartisan House companion of the Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act is led by Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA-12) and Byron Donalds (R-FL-19).

“The daughter of immigrants, Shirley Chisholm was a trailblazer who persevered throughout her life, becoming the first Black woman elected to Congress,” said Senator Hirono. “Congresswoman Chisholm remains an inspiration to many and I’m proud to support this legislation to posthumously award her the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of her lifelong fight for civil rights and gender equity.”

“Shirley Chisholm was a pioneering figure in American politics, serving as a source of inspiration for millions throughout our country,” said Senator Collins. “I am proud to join this effort to recognize her historic contributions to our nation.”

“Shirley Chisholm fought tirelessly to overcome discrimination and become the first African American woman ever elected to Congress,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’m proud to help introduce this bill to honor and celebrate her legacy breaking barriers for Black women and making sure women of color have a seat at the table.”

“Shirley Chisholm never wavered in her life’s mission to be ‘a catalyst of change.’ As a Congresswoman and a co-founder of the National Organization for Women and National Political Congress of Black Women—among her other leadership initiatives—she was a major force for progress toward equality, economic empowerment, and justice for all in America. For the larger-than-life impact she had on our nation, she is most deserving of the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest honor that Congress can award,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress. She was committed to fighting for racial and gender equality and civil rights and paved the way for a Congress that better reflects who we are as a nation,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to support these bills to help recognize her astounding achievements.”

The Shirley Chisholm Statue Act would:

  • Direct Congress to commission and place a statue of the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm in a permanent public location in the United States Capitol.

The Shirley Chisholm Statue Act is co-sponsored by Senators: Butler (D-Calif.), Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Warren (D-Mass.), Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Sanders (I-Vt.), Durbin (D-Ill.), Smith (D-Minn.), Murray (D-Wash.), Stabenow (D-Mich.), Casey (D-Pa.), Padilla (D-Calif.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Collins (R-Maine).

A summary of the bill and a full list of endorsing organizations can be found HERE.

“Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is proud to support Senator Laphonza Butler’s legislation for the Honorable Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act. The Honorable Shirley Chisholm, trailblazing Congresswoman representing New York’s 12th Congressional District and the first Black woman to run for President from a major political party, was a beloved member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated having been initiated at the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter in 1969,” said Elsie Cooke-Holmes, International President, Chair, and Board of Directors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. “Her unbossed and unbought spirit guides the Sorority’s work in social action today and is truly an inspiration for every person seeking to make an impact throughout our nation. It brings us great pride to see her legacy honored this way, and we thank Senator Laphonza Butler for spearheading this initiative to recognize her through the Congressional Gold Medal.”

“Shirley Chisholm made great strides for Black women through her career in Congress. Not only did she break a glass ceiling, but she opened the door for many to follow her,” said NCNW President and CEO Shavon Arline-Bradley. “Furthermore, her perseverance and tenacity in the face of adversity at a time when a Black woman running for any office was unprecedented demonstrated her insight as a leader and advocate. Honoring her legacy with this gold medal, even posthumously is not only deserving, but long overdue.” 

The Shirley Chisholm Congressional Gold Medal Act full bill text can be found HERE.

The Shirley Chisholm Statue Act full bill text can be found HERE.



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