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Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

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A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley's Chisholm's 1972 presidential bid.


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Title: Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed (2004)

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Credited cast:
Ralph Abernathy ...
Himself (archive footage)
Amiri Baraka ...
Susan Brownmiller ...
Octavia Butler ...
Shirley Chisholm ...
Himself (archive footage)
Ron Dellums ...
Walter Fauntroy ...
Betty Friedan ...
Herself (archive footage)
Paula Giddings ...
Robert Gottlieb ...
Hubert H. Humphrey ...
Himself (archive footage)
Barbara Lee ...
Himself (archive footage)


A documentary on Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley's Chisholm's 1972 presidential bid.

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18 January 2004 (USA)  »

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Featured in The 20th IFP Independent Spirit Awards (2005) See more »

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Excellent Political Documentary
5 September 2004 | by (View Park, California, USA) – See all my reviews

CHISHOLM '72: UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED is an excellent documentary about a fearless lady and her bold campaign for the nation's top political office. Rather than wait for the "right time," Chisholm stepped into the presidential race in 1972 as not only the first black person, but also the first woman to mount a serious presidential campaign. She also did it on her own terms.

While she failed to win the nomination (that went to Sen. George McGovern, who eventually lost to Richard Nixon), she did incredibly well given the substantial obstacles that she faced. If one were to compare her bid to Carol Moseley-Braun's 2004 bid for the same job, it is all the more impressive. So much so in fact, that you wonder if Moseley-Braun even bothered to study her campaign. If she did, one would think that she would have fared much better.

Unlike Moseley-Braun, Chisholm did not try to downplay the fact that she was a woman or that she was black. To her it was a badge of honor. If anything, Chisholm's campaign had tremendous symbolic value. It served as a test of the "American Dream." The question that the campaign seemed to ask was not so much could a black woman win, but would she be taken seriously as a candidate. The viewer can make that determination after watching this film.

The documentary combines historical and contemporary footage to effectively give the viewer a sense of the political environment that Chisholm found herself in. For those unfamiliar with the campaign, it may bring a few surprises.

The director wisely allows the participants to speak for themselves. This includes interviews with former Congressman Ron Dellums, author Octavia Butler and Chisholm herself.

Overall, CHISHOLM '72: UNBOUGHT & UNBOSSED is a powerful documentary. Chisholm's outspoken nature is a refreshing alternative to the sanitized and overly cautious political candidates that dominate the political landscape today. Irrespective of your political affiliation, this provocative film will stay with you long after you've left the theatre.

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