Brooklyn College is marking a milestone with its women’s studies program. As we continue our coverage of Women’s History Month, we head to the Brooklyn campus for a look at feminism in 2016 and its role in politics.
It was more than four decades ago, but Shirley Chisholm’s historic bid for president in 1972 still resonates on the campus of the college where she’s a celebrated alumnus.
“It’s important that our students are connected to her legacy,” said Director of the college’s Shirley Chisholm Project, Zinga Fraser.
Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968 and the first to launch a serious bid for president. Fraser says part of the teachings here is how Chisholm created a coalition of marginalized communities as part of her campaign.
“We’ve got to have persons who have the courage to really tell it like it really is,” Chisholm said.
This year students in the Women’s and Gender Studies program, now marking its 40th year, are looking at Chisholm’s 1972 campaign and what it means for a woman to be president. With that, Hillary Clinton becomes the subject of discussion.
“I feel like in political discussion everyone want the first woman president and never discusses what her terms are what she has planned and I think there’s a difference between voting for someone because they’re a woman and voting for someone because they’re right,” said student Bryanna Ajodha.
“I don’t think Hillary Clinton being a woman automatically makes her great for women,” said student Brian Cordero. “Not that she’s objectively bad for them but I don’t like to see that correlation being made.”
Fraser says the feminist movement from the 1960s has evolved beyond symbolism, yet women in politics still endure unique hurdles.
“Feminists, at least in my class, are very nuanced,” Fraser said. “They can understand the sexism and misogyny that Hillary Clinton in many ways has to endure because she’s a woman but still are connected to progressive politics.”
That’s why Chisholm’s political influence endures. The Brooklyn trailblazer will continue to be part of the curriculum here as political cycles come and go.
The women’s and gender studies program will have its 40th anniversary celebration March 31.
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