‘Chisholm’ trail! Fort Greene gets building named after legendary congresswoman

Gov. Paterson and Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries unveil the plaque to honor former Rep. Shirley Chisholm that will grace the renamed Shirley Chisholm State Office Building on Hanson Place in Fort Greene.
Photo by Tom Callan

She was unbought, unbossed and unafraid to fight for women’s rights — and now legendary Rep. Shirley Chisholm is getting an honor usually set aside for dead white men.

The first black woman ever elected to Congress — and the first black woman to ever seek a major party nomination for president — Chisholm was breaking racial and gender barriers before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton even dreamed about the White House.

Today, a state office building in Fort Greene will be renamed for the trail-blazing Chisholm — the result of two years of bill-drafting and deliberation by her spiritual heirs, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene) and state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant).

The building is especially appropriate since it houses offices handing education affairs, an area Chisholm worked on until she retired in 1982.

Gov. Paterson will be there alongside borough political figures, including Jeffries.

“Shirley Chisholm blazed a trail from the streets of Brooklyn in 1972 to the White House in 2008,” Jeffries said. “Indeed, she casts a shadow far larger than this building.”

And politicians aren’t the only ones who support the renaming. Several people who work and use the state building were ecstatic to hear the news.

“That’s so great!” said Mona Faison, whose daughter attends day care in the building. “It needed to be done for the younger generation. My daughter needs to know about her.”

One man recalled seeing Chisholm on television when he was a teenager.

“I remember her from when I was a kid,” Arnett Verdell said. “She was rather exuberant, and an articulate speaker.”

Legendary former Rep. Shirley Chisholm will get an office building named after her today.

Shirley Chisholm renaming ceremony at the State Office Building (55 Hanson Pl. between Fort Greene and S. Elliot places in Fort Greene), Oct. 4 at 10:30 am. Free.

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