Toward a Theory of Symbolic Empowerment
Chapter 2 details the process by which Chisholm went from Black female lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives to presidential hopeful. The goal of this chapter is threefold: (1) to advance a theory of symbolic empowerment illustrated by Chisholm’s historic candidacy, (2) to demonstrate the utility of that theory for examining intragroup emotion and political behavior as mutually reinforcing, and (3) to assess ways in which race and gender were pervasive forces affecting almost all aspects of Chisholm’s campaign and people’s reactions to it. Focusing on ways in which her candidacy was rejected by Black civil rights and women’s liberation organizations, this chapter illuminates how future American presidential candidates would be similarly challenged on the basis of race and gender. It relies on archival data, including speeches, congressional files, oral interviews, newspaper clippings, constituent letters, and campaign materials from special collections at Brooklyn College and Rutgers University to inform it.
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