15 Places You Won’t Believe Have Seen Snow

iStock
iStock

Believe it or not, some of the world’s hottest regions have experienced winter blizzards, spring flurries, and even summer snowfalls. Here are 15 sunny places that are, surprisingly, no stranger to the white stuff.

1. LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 

WHEN: January 1949

HOW MUCH: More than half an inch of snow covered L.A.’s downtown weather station, and the San Fernando Valley received nearly a foot.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: L.A. has experienced a handful of snowfalls over the decades, but this one lasted for nearly three days. Today, it’s remembered as the greatest recorded winter storm in the city’s history—not exactly a hard distinction to earn, considering it’s only snowed six times in L.A. since 1949, and not once in the past 54 years.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Even though they had to temporarily trade in their shorts and T-shirts for parkas, Californians managed to find humor in the situation. People built sombrero-wearing snowmen, and one hardware store erected a sign that read, “Snow Plows for Rent—Hurry!” The city of Reno, Nevada, even mailed L.A. a snow shovel.

“’The Big Snow of 49,’ we will remark to our wide-eyed grandchildren, “ one local newspaper rhapsodized. “Now that was a snow that really was a snow.” 

2. MUHAFAZAT AL WAFRAH, KUWAIT

WHEN: January 28, 2016

HOW MUCH: A light dusting of snow (if it was, in fact, snow) reportedly fell near a border post in Muhafazat al Wafrah, Kuwait.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Temperatures in Kuwait can dip as low as 36°F during the colder months, but to our knowledge, the tiny Gulf country has never experienced a white winter.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: "I asked my grandfather, he said there has never been snow before," one local man commented to a newspaper. "Everyone is surprised." However, the jury’s still out on whether Kuwait actually experienced its first official snowfall. People shared images and videos of the phenomenon on social media, but none were independently verified. Meanwhile, one meteorologist told an official state news wire service that the “snow” was really hail that had fallen onto wet grounds, forming a layer of ice.

3. MAUNA KEA, HAWAII

WHEN: June 14, 2016

HOW MUCH: A light dusting

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island that stands nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest peak in the Pacific Ocean. Thanks to its elevation, Mauna Kea has a sub-arctic climate zone. It’s no stranger to snow, blizzards, and ice during the winter, but it’s more unusual to see the volcano covered in frozen precipitation during warmer months. That being said, Mauna Kea has experienced summer snow before—once in June 2011, and other incidents that have occurred in July, August, and late May.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Native Hawaiians (and weather experts) know that snow falls on the top of the summits of Hawaii’s three tallest volcanoes—Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Haleakala—several times a year. But others were a little confused, so a weather service explained the science behind the phenomenon in a social media post on June 15, 2016: “Snow on Mauna Kea in June? How common is that?” they wrote.  “Although not common during the summer months, snow can fall and has fallen during the summer. Just last year, the summit saw snow on July 17th. The combination of cooler than normal upper air temperatures and thunderstorms bringing in moisture was what made snow possible yesterday.”

4. SOUTHERN FLORIDA

WHEN: The early morning of January 9, 1977

HOW MUCH: Miami’s beaches received trace amounts of white stuff, and even Homestead, Florida—a suburb that’s only 25 degrees, 28 minutes north of the equator—saw a few flurries. However, the phenomenon was short-lived, and the skies were clear by 9:30 a.m. The precipitation ended up being so slight that the freak occurrence wasn’t even officially recorded as a snow event.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: The event marked the first time that steamy South Florida had ever seen snow. There hasn’t been a confirmed instance since—although one meteorologist says she received reports of flurries in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in January 2010. (These sightings weren’t officially confirmed by weather services.)

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Teachers allowed students to leave class and run in the snow, and a sanitation company in Pompano Beach playfully put "Free Snow Removal" signs on its garbage trucks. “Born and raised in Florida, I had never seen snow, and I will never forget that day as long as I live," one woman later reminisced to a local newspaper on the event’s 35th anniversary last year.

5. PHOENIX, ARIZONA

WHEN: Two record-breaking instances: January 20, 1933, and January 21-22, 1937

HOW MUCH: 1 inch

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Believe it or not, Arizona isn’t dry as a desert year-round. Come winter, heavy snowfalls often blanket the state’s mountainous north central regions. But snow is almost unheard of in Phoenix—which is why it was so monumental when the metro area received an inch of the white stuff on two separate occasions in the 1930s. Today, these incidents remain in the books as the greatest amounts of snow ever recorded in the region. (Snow fell again in Phoenix in 1998, but only .22 inches of precipitation—and a trace amount of snow—was measured.)

 WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Local newspapers described the 1937 snowfall in dramatic terms: “Winter subjected Arizona to an unrelenting barrage of bitter cold yesterday, sending snow flurries [to] Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma,” one news outlet wrote—even though a subsequent paragraph revealed that only a few flakes fell during the late afternoon and evening, and melted before hitting the ground.

6. GUADELOUPE

WHEN: March 31, 2016

HOW MUCH: : “A very fine snowfall” reportedly covered the hills above the municipality of St. Claude, northeast of the capital city of Basse-Terre, after the region experienced a cold front and accompanying precipitation. 

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Caribbean news outlets claimed it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day Joke: For the first time in recorded history, snow had actually fallen on the tropical French island of Guadeloupe. (We haven’t been able to find accounts by non-locals, so the jury’s still out on whether the alleged phenomenon was actually a prank.)

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: “This has never before been seen in Guadeloupe,” a French meteorologist said on TV. “This is an exceptional event that we will never forget.”

7. SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

WHEN: June 28, 1836

HOW MUCH: Up to one inch 

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Overnight rain turned into morning snow, and by 7 a.m. people reported measuring as much as one inch piling on top of rooftops and awnings (although it reportedly melted in an hour). Over the following decades, Sydney reportedly experienced several other snowfalls, but none were as dramatic—or as strange—as the 1836 incident.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Sydney officially become Australia’s first city in 1842. Before that, it was a colony of British settlers and former convicts. According to a local newspaper, the surprised European transplants “were reported to have made light of the unusual occurrence,” a reporter wrote. “Some of the ‘Old hands’ express a hope that their old acquaintances, Messrs. Frost and Snow do not intend emigrating to New South Wales.”

8. ROME, ITALY

WHEN: February 4, 2012

HOW MUCH: Parts of the city were covered in nearly a foot of snow, and even more fell the following day.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Can’t imagine white weather in the Mediterranean? Neither can its inhabitants. This was Rome’s heaviest snowfall since the mid-1980s—and the city was completely unprepared for the chaos it caused. Schools shut down, some commuters took as long as eight hours to arrive home from work, and some 33,000 homes were left without power the next day. Later that week, officials were forced to shut down the Colosseum after they discovered that frozen chunks of its walls were falling off, and the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were closed to tourists.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: One journalist told a Canadian news outlet that Rome’s mayor announced nobody should drive in the snow without snow chains, “which no one has in this city because it never snows,” she said. They did, however, have shovels: Civil protection authorities handed out around 2000 shovels in Rome’s central public squares, and asked locals to lend a hand and help dig the city out.

9. THE SAHARA DESERT

WHEN: February 18, 1979

HOW MUCH: It’s hard to pinpoint an official recorded depth, but the snowstorm reportedly lasted a half-hour and melted within a few hours.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: The Saharan mountain ranges (which include Chad’s Tibesti Mountains and Algeria’s Ahaggar Mountains) experience snow around every seven years—but this time around, it fell in the city of Ghardaïa, Algeria. The phenomenon marked the first time that snow was ever recorded in the desert’s low altitude areas.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: The snowstorm reportedly caused traffic delays, but we still don’t know if locals complained or used the weather as an excuse to skip work.

10. BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

WHEN: July 9, 2007

HOW MUCH: A front of Antarctic air drifted north, causing normally warm temperatures to dip and precipitation to fall. Newspapers didn’t name an official snow depth, but the soft, wet layer of white stuff covered Buenos Aires and portions of the western highlands.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: According to the national weather service, Buenos Aires hadn’t experienced a major snowstorm since June 22, 1918. (The occasion may have also felt particularly festive because it occurred on Argentina’s independence day holiday.)

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Children pelted each other with snowballs, motorists drove with tiny snowmen on their car hoods, and crowds gathered at the city’s famous Obelisk monument to enjoy the historic weather. "Despite all my years, this is the first time I've ever seen in snow in Buenos Aires," an 82-year-old woman told a newspaper. 

11. BAGHDAD, IRAQ

WHEN: January 11, 2008

HOW MUCH: Flurries (they melted quickly)

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Snow is a regular occurrence in northern Iraq’s mountain regions. In Baghdad? Not so much. Locals reportedly couldn’t agree on when (and even whether) Baghdad had received snow before. Some people said it had never happened whereas others argued snow struck the region once, a little over 40 years prior. Others only remembered occasional rain or hailstorms.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Some people said they’d only seen snow in movies, so they were eager to capture the moment. “I rushed quickly to the balcony to see a very beautiful scene,” said one 19-year-old college student. “I tried to film it with my cell phone camera. This scene has really brought me joy. I called my other friends and the morning turned out to be a very happy one in my life.”

12. SOUTH TEXAS

WHEN: December 24-25, 2004

HOW MUCH: 12.5 inches in Victoria, Texas; 4.4 inches in Corpus Christi, Texas; and 1-3 inches across parts of the Houston metro area.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Forget about white Christmases—South Texas rarely ever gets snow, much less a measurable amount. This was the most snow that the region had seen since the late 1800s, so naturally, it set several historic records: Corpus Christi experienced its heaviest-ever recorded snowstorm, Victoria weathered its greatest 24-hour snowstorm, and the city of Brownsville received its first measurable amount of snow since February 1895.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Nobody believed forecasts calling for snow—so when the storm finally hit, locals had nothing to wear. One man remembers his children playing in the snow, plastic bags taped around their ankles to stay dry. Other people recall snowball fights and snowmen, and refer to the phenomenon as a Christmas miracle.

13. NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

WHEN: February 14-15, 1895

HOW MUCH: More than 8 feet

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: The Big Easy is famous for its bayous and swamps, but it’s also experienced 17 measurable snowfalls since 1852 (including a 1-inch dusting in December 2008).  The city’s greatest snowstorm on record is the 1895 blizzard, which reportedly also caused flurries to fall even further south, in Tampico, Mexico.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Here’s one local newspaper’s account of the wintry weather phenomenon: “For more than 12 hours past snow has fallen here steadily and tonight [evening of February 14] the Crescent City is wrapped in a mantle of white such as she never wore before … Street car service was entirely suspended this afternoon, and the hackmen reaped a harvest, charging unheard of prices for their vehicles.”

14. DEATH VALLEY, CALIFORNIA

WHEN: Weather stations have only officially recorded two instances of snow in Death Valley. The first occurred on January 9 and 11, 1949; the second, on January 4 and 5, 1974. (This isn’t counting four inches of snow that was spotted at an unofficial weather station at Cow Creek, the national park’s employee housing area, on January 12, 1949.) 

HOW MUCH: A trace amount

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: Death Valley is Earth’s hottest place, and North America’s driest. Its average rainfall is less than two inches per year, and temperatures often soar above 120°F (although it does get chillier during the winter months).

15. THE ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE

WHEN: The snowfall began on July 3, 2011, and lasted for several days.

HOW MUCH: Thanks to a rare Antarctic cold front, parts of the arid region received nearly 32 inches of snow.

WHY IT WAS A BIG DEAL: The Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth, thanks in part to the Andes Mountains and Chilean Coast Range, which naturally block moisture from the region. Parts of the 600-mile-long plateau have never even experienced a recorded rainfall.

WHAT THE LOCALS THOUGHT: Locals of nearby San Pedro de Atacama said the snowstorm was the largest the region had received in three decades. Roads to the city were temporarily blocked, and thousands of people were left without electricity, cell phone service, radio, and food.

12 Things We Know About The Crown Season 3

Sophie Mutevelian, Netflix
Sophie Mutevelian, Netflix

Between the birth of Prince Louis, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's announcement that they're expecting their first child in the spring, 2018 was a busy year for England's royal family. But the next big royal event we're most looking forward to is season three of The Crown.

Since making its premiere on November 4, 2016, the Netflix series—which won the 2017 Golden Globe for Best Drama—has become an indisputable hit. The streaming series, created by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Morgan, follows the reign of Queen Elizabeth II and the ups and downs of the royal family.

Now that you’ve surely binge-watched both of the first two seasons, we’re looking ahead to season three. Here’s everything we know about The Crown’s third season so far.

1. Olivia Colman will play the Queen.

Olivia Colman in 'The Crown'
Netflix

From the very beginning, creator Peter Morgan made it clear that each season of The Crown would cover roughly a decade of history, and that the cast would change for season three and again in season five (to more accurately represent the characters 20 and 40 years later). In October 2017, it was announced that Olivia Colmanwho just won a Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy for The Favourite—would take over the role of Queen Elizabeth II.

When discussing her replacement with Jimmy Fallon, Claire Foy praised her successor, joking that "You'll forget all about me and the rest of the cast. You'll be like, ‘Who are they?' We're the warm-up act."

Though she might be best known to American audiences for her roles in Broadchurch and The Night Manager (the latter of which earned her a Golden Globe in 2017), Colman is no stranger to playing a member of the royal family. In addition to her award-winning role as Queen Anne in The Favourite, she played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon—wife of King George VI and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret—in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012).

2. We may not seen a third season until later in the year.

While no official release date for season three has been given, the BBC reported that we wouldn't see Colman as Queen Elizabeth II until this year. But we could have some more waiting to do. The good news, however, is that Morgan confirmed they're shooting seasons three and four "back-to-back. I’m writing them all at the moment," he said in February. Meaning we may not have to wait as long for season four to arrive.

3. Tobias Menzies is taking over as Prince Philip.

Tobias Menzies in 'The Crown'
Sophie Mutevelian, Netflix

Between Outlander and The Terror, Tobias Menzies is keeping pretty busy these days. In late March 2017 it was announced that he’d be taking over Matt Smith’s role as Prince Philip for the next two seasons of The Crown—and Smith couldn't be happier.

Shortly after the announcement was made, Smith described his replacement as "the perfect casting," telling the Observer: "He’s a wonderful actor. I worked with him on The History Boys, and he’s a totally fantastic actor. I’m very excited to see what he does with Prince Philip." Of course, passing an iconic role on to another actor is something that former Doctor Who star Smith has some experience with. "It was hard to give up the Doctor—you want to play it for ever. But with this, you know you can’t," Smith told The Times.

For his part, Menzies said that, "I'm thrilled to be joining the new cast of The Crown and to be working with Olivia Colman again. I look forward to becoming her 'liege man of life and limb.'"

4. Paul Bettany came very close to having Menzies's role.

If you remember hearing rumblings that Paul Bettany would be playing the Duke of Edinburgh, no, you're not imagining things. For a while it seemed like the London-born actor was a shoo-in for the part, but it turned out that scheduling was not in Bettany's favor. When asked about the rumors that he was close to signing a deal to play Philip, Bettany said that, "We discussed it. We just couldn’t come to terms on dates really. [That] is all that happened."

5. Helena Bonham Carter will play Princess Margaret.

Honoured @thecrownnetflix

A post shared by Vanessa Kirby (@vanessa__kirby) on

After months of speculation—and one big hint via Instagram (see above)—in May 2018, Netflix finally confirmed the previously "all but confirmed" rumor that Helena Bonham Carter would play Princess Margaret in The Crown's next season. "I’m not sure which I’m more terrified about—doing justice to the real Princess Margaret or following in the shoes of Vanessa Kirby’s Princess Margaret,” Bonham Carter said of the role. “The only thing I can guarantee is that I’ll be shorter [than Vanessa]."

Like Colman, Bonham Carter also has some experience playing a royal: She played Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, a.k.a. the Queen Mother, in the Oscar-winning The King's Speech.

6. Princess Diana will notappear in season 3.

As The Crown moves forward, time will, too. Though fans worried that, based on the current time jumps between seasons, it would take another few years to see Princess Diana be introduced, Morgan told People Magazine that Princess Diana would make her first appearance toward the end of season three and that she will be heavily featured in the two seasons that follow. However, casting director Nina Gold later dispelled that notion.

"Diana’s not in this season," Gold told Vanity Fair. "When we do get to her, that is going to be pretty interesting." Charles and Diana did not meet until 1977, when the Prince began dating Diana's older sister, Sarah. According to Variety, season three will only cover the years 1964 to 1976.

7. Camilla Parker Bowles will be featured.

Lady Diana Spencer and Camilla Parker-Bowles at Ludlow Races where Prince Charles is competing, 1980
Express Newspapers/Archive Photos/Getty Images

As it’s difficult to fully cover the relationship between Prince Charles and Princess Diana without including Camilla Parker Bowles as part of the story, the current Duchess of Cornwall will make her first appearance in season three.

“Peter [Morgan]’s already talking about the most wonderful things,” The Crown producer Suzanne Mackie revealed during the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival in April 2017. “You start meeting Camilla Parker Bowles in season three,” she said, noting that they were then in the process of mapping out seasons three and four.

8. Buckingham Palace will be getting an upgrade.

Though it's hard to imagine a more lavish set design, Left Bank—the series's production company—requested more studio space for its sets at Elstree Studios in late 2017, and received approval to do just that in April. According to Variety, Left Bank specifically "sought planning permission for a new Buckingham Palace main gates and exterior, including the iconic balcony on which the royals stand at key moments. The Downing Street plans show a new Number 10 and the road leading up to the building itself. The sketches for the new work, seen by Variety, show an aerial view of Downing Street with a Rolls Royce pulling up outside Number 10."

9. Princess Margaret's marriage to Lord Snowdon will be a part of the story.

Vanessa Kirby as Princess Margaret in 'The Crown'
Alex Bailey/Netflix

Princess Margaret’s roller-coaster relationship with Antony Armstrong-Jones played a major part of The Crown’s second season, and the dissolution of their marriage will play out in season three.

“We’re now writing season three," Robert Lacey, the series’s history consultant and the author of The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1, told Town & Country in December. “And in season three, without giving anything away—it’s on the record, it’s history—we’ll see the breakup of this extraordinary marriage between Margaret and Snowdon. This season, you see how it starts, and what a strange character, a brilliant character Snowdon was.”

10. Vanessa Kirby would like to see Princess Margaret get a spinoff.

While Kirby, who played Princess Margaret in the first two seasons, knows that the cast will undergo a shakeup, she’s not afraid to admit that she’s jealous of all the juicy drama Bonham Carter will get to experience as the character.

“I was so desperate to do further on,” Kirby told Vanity Fair, “because it’s going to be so fun [to enact] when their marriage starts to break down. You see the beginnings of that in episode 10. I kept saying to [Peter Morgan], ‘Can’t you put in an episode where Margaret and Tony have a big row, and she throws a plate at his head?’ I’m so envious of the actress who gets to do it.”

Kirby even went so far as to suggest that Margaret’s life could be turned into its own series, telling Morgan, “‘We need to do a spinoff.’ You actually could do 10 hours on Margaret because she’s so fascinating. There’s so much to her, and she’s such an interesting character. I know that parts like this hardly ever come along."

11. Jason Watkins will play prime minister Harold Wilson.

At the same time Netflix confirmed Bonham Carter's casting, the network announced that BAFTA-winning actor Jason Watkins had been cast as Harold Wilson, who was prime minister between 1964 and 1970 and again between 1974 and 1976. "I am delighted to become part of this exceptional show,” Watkins said. “And so thrilled to be working once again with Peter Morgan. Harold Wilson is a significant and fascinating character in our history. So looking forward to bringing him to life, through a decade that transformed us culturally and politically."

12. Gillian Anderson will play Margaret Thatcher.

Gillian Anderson speaks onstage at The X-Files panel during 2017 New York Comic Con -Day 4 on October 8, 2017 in New York City
Dia Dipasupil, Getty Images

Ok, so this might be a fourth season tidbit—but it's still very worth talking about. In January 2019 it was announced that The Crown had cast its Iron Lady: former The X-Files star Gillian Anderson will play former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in The Crown's fourth season.

12 Facts About Shirley Chisholm, The First African-American to Run For President

Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Being the first black woman to serve on Congress would be a significant enough accomplishment for a lifetime, but it wasn’t good enough for Shirley Chisholm. Three years after she arrived in Washington, D.C., Chisholm became the first woman to run for president for the Democratic party. When announcing her intention to seek the nomination on January 25, 1972, Chisholm stated, “I’m a revolutionary at heart now and I’ve got to run, even though it might be the downfall of my career.”

Though her campaign was controversial at times, it wasn’t the downfall of her long and noteworthy career. And she's still making headlines. In late 2018, Oscar-winner Viola Davis announced that she would be producing and starring in The Fighting Shirley Chisholm, a biopic chronicling Chisholm's amazing life. On January 21, 2019—nearly 50 years after Chisholm announced her presidential run—California senator Kamala Harris announced her own 2020 presidential run and unveiled her campaign logo, which pays tribute to Chisholm.

Here are a few things to know about this bold educator-turned-politician.

1. She had international roots.

On November 30, 1924, Shirley Anita St. Hill was born in Brooklyn, New York to Ruby Seale and Charles St. Hill. Her mother was a domestic worker who immigrated to the U.S. from Barbados; her father, a factory worker, was originally from Guyana.

2. She was born in Brooklyn, but had a slight English accent.

In 1928, Chisholm and her two sisters were sent to live with their grandmother in Barbados, while her parents stayed in New York and worked through the Great Depression. Chisholm attended a one-room schoolhouse on this island in the West Indies. In addition to receiving a British education, she picked up an accent, which remained slight but noticeable throughout her life.

3. Education had a significant impact on her life.


Library of Congress

Chisholm returned to the U.S. in March 1934 at age 9 and resumed with a public-school education. Following high school, she studied sociology at Brooklyn College and earned her BA in 1946. (She was a prize-winning debater in college, a skill that would serve her well throughout her political career.) She continued her education at Columbia University and earned an MA in early childhood education in 1952. While she was still a student at Columbia, she began teaching at a nursery school and married Conrad Chisholm in 1949. They would later divorce in 1977.

4. Her first career was as an educator.

After working at the nursery school, Chisholm worked her way through the teaching ranks and by 1953 was the director of two day care centers, a position she held until 1959. Her expertise and experience led to her role as an educational consultant for New York City’s Division of Day Care from 1959 through 1964.

5. Her political career was revolutionary from the beginning.

Chisholm was a member of the League of Women Voters and the Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League before she ran for the New York State Assembly in 1964. When she won, Chisholm became the second African-American woman to serve on the state legislature. From 1965 to 1968, Chisholm served as a Democratic member and focused on unemployment benefits for domestic workers and education initiatives.

6. Redistricting inspired her run for Congress.

Chisholm with Rosa Parks (L) between 1960 and 1970.
Chisholm with Rosa Parks (L)
Library of Congress

Chisholm set her sights on Congress when redistricting efforts gave Brooklyn a new congressional district. Not one to shy away from the public, Chisholm used to drive through neighborhoods while announcing, “This is fighting Shirley Chisholm coming through.” She defeated three candidates in the primary election, including a state senator, before defeating well-known civil rights activist James Farmer in the general election. This victory made her the first African-American woman elected to Congress, and she would go on to serve seven terms.

7. She had a way with words and established herself as outspoken and ready for change early in her first term.

She was known for her bold declarations. After her upset victory in the congressional election, she boasted, "Just wait, there may be some fireworks." And she delivered on that promise. Given her campaign slogan “Unbought and unbossed,” it should come as no surprise that Chisholm quickly made her presence known in Congress. She spoke out against the Vietnam War within the first few months of her arrival and said she would vote against military spending. When she was initially relegated to the House Agricultural Committee, she requested a new assignment, claiming that she didn’t think she could best serve her Brooklyn constituents from that position.

After directly addressing House Speaker John McCormack on the matter, she was reassigned to Veterans’ Affairs, and then moved to the Education and Labor Committee in 1971. True to her desire to bring about change, Chisholm hired all women for her office, half of whom were African-American. She was also a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus as well as the National Women’s Political Caucus.

8. Her presidential campaign was unexpected and historic.

Chisholm formally announced her intention to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in January 1972, making her the first African-American to run for a major party and the first woman to vie for the Democratic nomination. During her speech, which she delivered in her hometown of Brooklyn, Chisholm said, "I am not the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that...I am the candidate of the people of America, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history."

Although her campaign wasn’t as well-funded as her competitors’, Chisholm did get her name on the primary ballot in 12 states and won 28 delegates in primary elections. She received about 152 delegates at the Democratic National Convention, coming in fourth place for the party.

9. The campaign trail was full of challenges.

Political buttons from the collection of Alix Kates Shulman
Political buttons from the collection of Alix Kates Shulman
Polly Shulman

Chisholm likely expected challenges during her campaign, and she certainly encountered a fair amount. She received multiple threats against her life, including assassination attempts, and was granted Secret Service protection to ensure her safety. Chisholm also had to sue to be included in televised debates.

There was even controversy where there could have been encouragement. Her decision to run for the Democratic nomination caught many members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) off-guard, and they weren’t happy that she acted before a formal and unified decision could be made. But Chisholm was done with waiting; when the subject of the CBC came up on the night she announced her campaign, she told the crowd, “While they’re rapping and snapping, I’m mapping.”

10. She had an unlikely supporter in George Wallace.

Chisholm was well aware that her biggest source of support came from women and minorities and often advocated on their behalf, so it shocked many of her supporters and constituents when she visited political rival George Wallace after an assassination attempt sent him to the hospital—and ultimately left him paralyzed—in 1972. Wallace, who was governor of Alabama, was known for his racist comments and segregationist views, but Chisholm checked on him. She said she never wanted what happened to him to happen to anybody else.

Ultimately, their friendship benefited the public when Wallace came through for Chisholm on an important piece of legislation in 1974. She was working on a bill that would give domestic workers the right to a minimum wage. Wallace convinced enough of his fellow Southern congressmen to vote in favor of the bill, moving it through the House.

11. Following retirement, Chisholm didn’t slow down.

Chisholm retired from Congress in 1982, but leaving the political arena didn’t mean she was done making a difference. Although she planned on spending more time with her second husband, Arthur Hardwick Jr., she also returned to teaching at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and continued to speak at colleges across the country.

Chisholm passed away on January 1, 2005 at age 80 in Ormond Beach, Florida. She is buried in Buffalo, New York, and the inscription on the mausoleum vault in which she is buried reads “Unbought and Unbossed.”

12. She continues to garner accolades for her trailblazing work.

Chisholm was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service debuted the Shirley Chisholm Forever Stamp as part of the Black Heritage Series. A year later, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and now Viola Davis will star in a movie about her life. But Chisholm never doubted what legacy she wanted to leave behind, once saying, “I want history to remember me ... not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself. I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.”

An earlier version of this article ran in 2017.

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