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Ayanna Pressley Will Get The Old Office Of Shirley Chisholm, First Black Congresswoman

Massachusetts’ first Black woman elected to Congress said Shirley Chisholm is her “shero.”

Massachusetts Rep. elect Ayanna Pressley (D), who made history in November as the state’s first Black woman elected to Congress, will soon work from the former office of another political trailblazer: Shirley Chisholm.

Pressley announced Monday that her new congressional office will be the same one Chisholm, the first Black woman ever elected to Congress, once occupied.

Chisholm was elected in 1968 to represent a district in New York and held the seat until 1983. She also was the first Black candidate to run for a major party’s nomination for president, running as a Democrat in 1972. She died in 2005.

Chisholm has long been an inspiration to Pressley, who tweeted out a photo posing under her idol’s portrait in November.

“Shirley Chisholm has been a shero of mine since I was a girl,” Pressley told HuffPost on Wednesday in a statement. “Her commitment to fighting injustice and lifting up the voices of the disenfranchised is an inspiration and an example I hope to follow.”

“I am humbled to occupy the same space she did on Capitol Hill, and I am deeply thankful to my colleague, Congresswoman-elect Katie Hill of California, for so graciously offering to switch offices,” she added.

Fellow incoming congresswoman Katie Hill enabled Pressley to get the historic office space. Hill, a Democrat from California, had originally drawn a better lottery number than Pressley and selected Chisholm’s office. But she offered to switch given the office’s historical and personal significance to Pressley.

“Shirley Chisholm was always so clear that women supporting women would move our politics forward,” Hill told HuffPost in a statement. “That is more true now than ever before.”

Pressley is set to occupy her new office in January. In November, she unseated a 10-term Democratic incumbent who previously held her House seat in Massachusetts’ 7th District. Her primary upset win drew comparisons to progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory in New York.

Now the two are among a history-making group of freshmen Democratic congresswomen set to shake up Congress. Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, while Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are the country’s first Muslim congresswomen.

Congress woman
Ocasio-Cortez (far right) is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, while Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (far left) and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan (to the right of Pressley) are the country’s first Muslim congresswomen. (Ocasio-Cortez’ Instagram)

This story originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

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