Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was a politician, educator, and author who holds the distinction of being the first African American woman elected to the United States Congress, in 1968. In 1972, Chisholm entered the primaries for the presidential election, failing to capture the Democratic nomination; her candidacy, however, served as what she called a "catalyst for change."

The previous year, in 1971, Chisholm, whose work included emphasis on helping the inner-city and educational reform, put her support behind a non-political figure, despite a name inspired by a former president: Roosevelt Franklin of Sesame Street. Chisholm was one of several entertainment, political, and educational figures who provided testimonials for the back cover of The Year of Roosevelt Franklin:

"Roosevelt Franklin" brings together children, black and white, fat and thin, shy and bold. They are natural children untouched by the polluted minds of adults. It is beautiful.

In 2004, former Sesame Street kid Shola Lynch produced and directed a documentary covering Chisholm's presidential candidacy, Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed.

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