I’ll say that again: Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman in Congress, and George Wallace, the most notorious segregationist politician of the 20th century, worked together to raise wages for domestic servants, probably the most abused and unregulated sector of the workforce. (Chisholm’s immigrant mother, in fact, had been a domestic worker, while her father toiled in a factory that made burlap bags.) Was that an unrepeatable one-off event based on a bizarre personal connection, or an example of a cross-racial, North-South, class-based political coalition that might have been? We’ll never know, although it’s tempting to imagine the revolutionary potential of a Chisholm-Wallace ticket – the disabled good ol’ boy and the steely-eyed schoolmarm – which really might have caused the American political universe to explode.
Sep 10 2012