Shirley Chisholm, Brooklyn-born with a distinct British West-Indian accent, shattered barriers by becoming the first Black woman to seek a major party's nomination for president. Her prominence started in 1968 when Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress and represented New York's 12th Congressional District. She would serve seven terms in office through 1983.

In 1972, Chisholm became the first woman and African American to seek the nomination for President of the United States from one of the two major political parties. Running for the Democratic Party’s nomination, Chisholm's campaign slogan was "Unbought and Unbossed," as she fought for the rights of all people to be represented. Working with an underfunded campaign, she faced racism and sexism at every corner. Despite these obstacles, Chisholm garnered 152 of the delegates’ votes. Her efforts are captured in the upcoming Netflix film Shirley. Starring Regina King, the Academy Award winner was determined to tell Chisholm's story with the utmost respect.

Regina King and Terrence Howard in Shirley. Image: Netflix.
Regina King as Shirley Chisholm and Terrence Howard as Arthur Hardwick Jr. in Shirley. Image: Glen Wilson/Netflix.

"First of all, understanding that they are us, it is our responsibility as Black Americans to make sure that our stories are told honestly, and we are honoring those in respecting the people we're playing," King shared with EBONY in a sit-down interview.

Terrence Howard plays Arthur Hardwick Jr., a businessman and fellow politician who aided Chisholm in her campaign (and who she eventually married). Howard explained why this historic run made a difference for the Black community. "In the US, being told that we don't count, we don't matter? Shirley said, 'No, I do count, I do matter. Get out there, participate and vote. You need to be a part of the process and the solution, or you are the problem.'"

The respect both actors felt toward playing Shirley and Arthur grew as they learned about these civil activists. "We were blown away as we researched how much we didn't know," King declared. That included an assassination attempt on Chisholm's life (one of three) and her family's initial reluctance to support her presidential bid. Chisholm showed an unprecedented level of compassion when she went to visit politician George Wallace in the hospital after he was shot during a campaign stop. The fellow presidential candidate and outspoken segregationist was profoundly affected by Chisholm's visit and ultimately softened his stance on separating the races in later years.

King produced the film with her real-life sister, making it a family passion project. "I had already seen Regina encompass, embody and start becoming Shirley," Reina King recalled. "Then Terrence came in and started looking like Arthur ... it was magical to watch."

Shirley premieres on Netflix on March 22.