POV: Chisholm ‘72 - Unbought & Unbossed (PBS)
In 1972, Shirley Chisholm, a junior congresswoman from New York City, became the first African-American and the first woman to toss her “bonnet,” as CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite cutely put it, into the ring and seek the presidency of the United States. Chisholm ‘72 - Unbought & Unbossed, produced by Phil Bertelsen and Shola Lynch, who also directed, is a vibrant recollection of Chisholm’s campaign, which, impossible dream though it was in its time, resonates powerfully today. In archival news clips, the articulate, un-equivocating Chisholm, prim as tensile steel, makes most of her rivals look like jellyfish. In interviews conducted prior to her death at age 80 in January 2005, she is as incisive and unafraid as ever. Lynch and Bertelsen capture not just the fire and determination, but also the vision of Chisholm who, in retrospect, seems to be the standard bearer for two martyred men, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. The filmmakers also evoke the fractious energy of a time when the country was openly divided over civil rights, women’s roles, and the war in Vietnam. Far from relegating to history Chisholm’s blunt, heartfelt challenges to disenchanted Americans to become engaged and demanding participants in policy and governance, the film reaffirms and renews them. It’s a call to action as well as a biography. For documenting an historic presidential campaign and reminding us what sort of candidates we have a right to demand, a Peabody Award goes to Chisholm ‘72: Unbought & Unbossed.
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