The first Black actress to earn a lead dramatic Emmy will bring another pioneering Black woman, Shirley Chisholm, to life on screen. 

Deadline reported yesterday (November 29) that Viola Davis will produce and star in “The Fighting Shirley Chisholm.” This will be the “Widows” star’s first project under the first look deal that JuVee Productions, the company she co-heads with husband Julius Tennon, recently signed with Amazon Studios. Davis confirmed the project today (November 30) by retweeting JuVee’s tweet with one of the late Democratic politician’s quotes:


According to her biography on the United States House of Representatives’ archival website, Chisholm was born in Brooklyn in 1924. The child of a Barbadian mother and Guyanese father, she made history as the first Black woman elected to the House by winning the race for New York City’s 12th congressional district in 1968. She represented that district until her retirement in 1983. During that time, Chisholm co-founded both the Congressional Black and Women’s Caucuses. She additionally wrote two political memoirs during that time: “Unbought and Unbossed” and “The Good Fight.”

Chisholm also ran for the Democratic party’s presidential nomination in 1972—the first time a woman or person of color sought a major party’s endorsement for the nation’s highest-ranking office. Her advocacy for progressive policies, including a nationwide minimum annual income frequently made her the target of racist and sexist vitriol from fellow legislators.

After retiring from office, Chisholm returned to her previous career as an educator. She also remained politically active by co-founding African-American Women for Reproductive Freedom and the National Congress of Black Women. She died in 2005 following multiple strokes.  

“The Fighting Shirley Chisholm” is not the only new project honoring her legacy. The New York Times reports today—on what would have been her 94th birthday—that New York City will erect a statue of her in Brooklyn in 2020.