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.