Quick Takes on the News: Call Me Shirley

Rep. Shirley Chisholm
AP Photo
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Alex Clearfield
Jan. 29, 2018, 8 p.m.

Clarke seeks to add statue of Chisholm to the Capitol

Civil rights activist Rosa Parks and abolitionist Frederick Douglass have statues in the Capitol, and Martin Luther King Jr. has a bust. The first black woman elected to Congress has a distinctive portrait, but no statue.

Rep. Yvette Clarke has gathered nearly 60 cosponsors for a bill that would change that. Her legislation directs the Joint Library Committee to acquire a statue of Shirley Chisholm, who represented parts of Brooklyn from 1969 to 1983 and cofounded the Congressional Black Caucus.

Clarke, who represents parts of the district Chisholm held, told National Journal she met Chisholm briefly when Chisholm endorsed her mother’s campaign for New York City Council.

The statue would not be a part of the official National Statuary Hall Collection, where New York is already represented by Vice President George Clinton and Declaration of Independence co-writer Robert Livingston.

Chisholm was also the first black candidate to seek a major party’s presidential nomination, and the second woman. The 152 delegates she earned in 1972 are the most for any woman other than Hillary Clinton.

“Whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, many have gone down that road, and that road was paved with sweat, blood, and tears from Shirley Chisholm,” says Clarke.

—Alex Clearfield

SOTU: The more rebuttals, the merrier

Sometimes, the official State of the Union response by the opposition party just isn’t enough for its disgruntled members. To wit: this year, Rep. Maxine Waters, not content to let Rep. Joe Kennedy III deliver the Democrats’ only rebuttal, will air her own remarks live on BET. Sen. Bernie Sanders, meanwhile, will deliver his second annual streamed response.

During the Obama administration, the Tea Party Express sponsored a rebuttal speech six years in a row, beginning in 2011, when none other than Paul Ryan gave the official rebuttal. That year, former Rep. Michele Bachmann did the honors for the group, just five months before launching her presidential bid. Herman Cain did the tea-party honors in 2012, followed in 2013 by Sen. Rand Paul and in 2014 by Sen. Mike Lee. 2015 featured freshman Rep. Curt Clawson, and by the last one in 2016, the struggling group was down to conservative gadfly and former sports handicapper Wayne Allyn Root.

Ever the individualist, Paul also delivered his own response in 2011, and from 2014 to 2016.
—Alex Clearfield

Michele Bachmann delivers her response to President Obama's State of the Union address on Jan. 25, 2011. AP Photo

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