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Rep. Shirley Chisholm (D-Brooklyn), the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, served from 1969 to 1983. She sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1972.

Shirley Chisholm and House committee assignments

Brooklyn Democrat thought Agriculture panel was ‘not relevant’ to her district

By David Wildstein, January 18 2019 1:43 pm

After Shirley Chisholm won a House seat in 1968, she was assigned a seat on the House Agriculture Committee – not exactly the best perch for a Brooklyn congresswoman to oppose the Vietnam War and fight for her unprivileged constituents.

She called her assignment “not relevant” to her district. She wanted a seat on the Education and Labor committee.

In those days, House committee assignments were made by Wilbur Mills, the Arkansas Democrat who chaired of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Chisholm appealed her committee assignment directly to the Speaker of the House, John McCormack.  He told her to “be a good soldier.”

After that, Chisholm brought her complaint directly to the House floor.  House Democrats backed down and gave her a seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

“There are a lot more veterans in my district than trees,” she said later.

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