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Shirley: The New Voice of African American Women In Politics


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Shirley, directed by John Ridley, is a remarkable story about Shirley Chisholm (Regina King) on her way to running for president. In the first few scenes of the movie, she is able to be apart of congress. Shirley sets her sights on being president due to the injustices going on in the community. Shirley campaigned mostly in the 1970’s. Noted in the beginning, the film displayed a dedication, ‘For Ian’, which was Regina King’s son who passed away in January of 2022. 

Regina King as Shirley Chisholm in ‘Shirley’. Photo: Netflix

Shirley enlists the help of a great team which consisted of Arthur Hardwick Jr. (Terrance Howard), Conrad Chisholm (Michael Cherrie), Wesley McDonald (Lance Reddick), and Robert Gottlieb (Lucas Hedges) All of these men are able to contribute assistance to Shirley as she makes way to campaign. Also an integral part of the team is another woman, Barbara Lee (Christina Jackson), who becomes very important in the future.

(left to right) Barbara Lee played by Christina Jackson, Conrad Chisholm played by Michael Cherrie, Wesley McDonald played by Lance Reddick, and Lucas Hedges played by Robert Gottlieb. Center- Shirley Chisholm played by Regina King. Photo: Netflix

There are some struggles that play out like Shirley’s relationship with her husband, Conrad. It seems very apparent that they both struggled  to maintain their relationship. Another scene is when Shirley went to go and see George Wallace (W. Earl Brown), who was known to be racist, and against Shirley during her campaign. Shirley explains that she understands how he is feeling due to someone trying to take her life earlier in the film. Shirley also has a distant relationship with her sister, Muriel St. Hill, played by Regina King’s real sister, Reina King.  One thing that stood out is Shirley’s willingness to be different as she state exactly how she feels. 

She also enlists the support from the Black Panther party, and meets with Huey Newton (Brad James). Shirley explains as to why she had visited George Wallace. As Huey hears out her explanation, he then goes on-air to support her campaign. Throughout the entire movie, it felt like Regina King really sinks her teeth into Shirley’s life. I immediately noticed her accent, comparing it to how the real Shirley Chisholm talks. It is almost identical if you close your eyes and hear both of them speak. 

At the end of the film, Barbara Lee ends up joining congress, and she explains Shirley Chisholm’s contribution in paving the way for African American women to be in congress. This movie was fantastic and I have to give much praise to Regina King for taking on the role of Shirley. Shirley Chisholm is an icon who held true to who she was and her opinions. 

I give this move 4/5 stars.


Janelle Holland
Janelle Holland
My name is Janelle, and I love comics, T.V. shows, movies. I enjoy everything from Marvel to DC. You can usually find me with a comic book in my hand and some coffee.

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