Unbought and Unbossed © Susan Lapham

Unbought and Unbossed: Shirley Chisholm

Susan Lapham

Vienna, Virginia, USA

Artist Statement

In 1971, a few days after my 14th birthday, I was arrested in front of the White House. That same day 300 people died in Vietnam. Influenced by Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm, I believed in their work for social justice – human rights, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights – and took part in activities for social and political change.

During the same time period, I learned to sew, cook, turn wood, fix cars. My dream was to live in a home where everything was made by my own hands. This home would be in a community of peace and justice, respect and dignity. I wanted to do everything my father and brothers could do along with everything my mother and grandmother could do. I made my own clothes and quilts, wired my own lamp, bled the brakes on my car. I walked 19 miles with Abzug. I stood with Chisholm as she broke boundaries. I demonstrated, marched, spent the night in jail…and I quilted.

The inspiration for this quilt comes from the dress Shirley Chisholm wore in 1972 the day she announced her candidacy for the presidential primary. I chose the geometric pattern to highlight the legacy of these two women’s words. “Unbought and Unbossed” was Chisholm’s slogan in her run for presidential candidacy. This quilt is a tribute to Chisholm and her lasting influence in American politics.

Woman’s Groundbreaking Accomplishment

Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was the first black woman elected to Congress and the first black woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972.


Machine pieced, machine quilted, hand embroidered.


Solid cotton fabric, cotton thread, cotton embroidery thread.