Shirley Chisholm Comes Alive on Stage

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Ingrid Griffith as Shirley Chisholm in the video recording of "Unbossed & Unbowed."

In 1972, Brooklyn-born Shirley St. Hill Chisholm made history as the first African American candidate to run for president of the United States. She was also the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and in June of that year, became the first female to appear in a U.S. presidential debate.

The story of “Fighting Shirley” is coming Southampton Arts Center (SAC) in a one-woman play written and performed by part-time East Hampton resident Ingrid Griffith. Directed by Zoya Kachadurian, “Shirley Chisholm: Unbossed and Unbowed” tells the largely unknown story of Chisholm, a daughter of immigrant parents. Presented with the Southampton African American Museum, the show takes place on Sunday, August 1, at 2 p.m., followed by a panel discussion.

“This compelling one-woman show telling the story of an important historical figure and icon not just to women, but to numerous marginalized communities, promises to be something special,” notes SAC Executive Director Tom Dunn. “While this performance dramatizes the Civil Rights era, it’s also relevant to what we still see in politics today. It’s an honor to present this important work alongside our friends at Southampton African American Museum, which formally opened on Juneteenth this year.”

Writer and performer Ingrid Griffith.

“It’s been over 50 years since Shirley Chisholm fought for civil rights, women’s rights and justice for the disenfranchised,” Griffith added. “We are in a moment in history when we must continue the fight she waged so bravely. It’s time we all know Shirley Chisholm’s story. Our country is at a tipping point, suspended between great peril and great possibilities. Shirley Chisholm is not with us, but we can gain strength from her spirit, vision and strategies.”

The play journeys back to 10-year-old Chisholm returning to the United States after being separated from her parents during the depression. Years living with her grandmother in Barbados manifested and reinforced her Caribbean heritage in her bearing, speech pattern and expectations of herself. Chisholm’s childhood also shows how race and gender were intended to determine how far she would go in life.

Tickets are $30 ($25 SAC members) at southamptonartscenter.org. Southampton Arts Center is at 25 Job’s Lane, Southampton.

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