Shirley Ending Explained - How the Netflix Movie Vindicates Shirley Chisholm's Presidential Campaign (2024)

The ending ofShirley (2024) on Netflix is a vindication of Shirley Chisholm’s choice to run for president, even if it was a long shot. The message is about dreaming big and not giving up; that you can achieve great things, even if you don’t win.

Shirley is written and directed by Oscar-winner John Ridley and should be on everyone’s must-watch list as it’s an important and powerful story about the first Black representative in the United States Congress, elected to serve one of New York’s congressional districts, who four years later made the bold proclamation about her intention to run for U.S. President.

The film opens with a visualizer of the House of Representatives in 1968. Standing to have their photograph taken Shirley stands out across a sea of white male faces, smiling proudly. It’s an eye-opening beginning filled with hope and a sense of determination.

We’re then taken through Shirley’s campaign. We see how friendly, and well-liked she is. There is a huge contrast between the lively-spirited Black and Hispanic community in Brooklyn and the stuck-up white walls of Congress.

Shirley comes across as a strong character, with a voice and determination, someone who isn’t going to sit back and fall in line. I believe her character wouldn’t want anyone seeing her vulnerable, or appearing weak, but that is my assumption as we don’t get to see this side of Shirley. We never get to see what makes her tick — if there were anything, that is.

This story is well known, and America has never had a female president, so I am assuming audiences know that she doesn’t win the election.

In the last twenty minutes of the film, Chisholm gives a compelling speech, and we see how and why she’s shaking the system and the advantages this is having on the black community. With her head held high, Chisholm never shows weakness or worry; a figure of confidence and dignity.

Humphreys drops out of the race, telling all his Black delegates to vote for Chisholm, which is a ray of hope that Shirley might have a shot at winning this thing. We then learn that he’s giving his delegates to her rival McGovern, and all Black delegates, even Chisholm’s, are being told to vote behind McGovern. Now all hope is lost and Chisholm makes the bold choice to make a statement to release her delegates.

How does Shirley end?

Whilst people in her team cry, Chisholm remains poised and calm and reflects on her campaign and what she was able to achieve. A very gracious loser — almost too gracious — it’s a simple and slow scene.

We then have a shot of Shirley about to go on live TV which is followed by a shot of Barbara Lee, who represents the 13th Congressional District of California as a member of Congress, being interviewed. Lee stated how Shirley Chisholm paved the way for people like her. We then see some real photographs of Chisholm, her team, and family members.

The final shots are black screens with facts about characters such as Wesley Mac Holder who continues to break radical boundaries and dies at age 95. There are photos of the actors alongside the real people, and you’ve got to give it to the casting department — they nailed it.

The last shot states that Shirley Chisholm died on January 1st, 2005, at age 80, and outlines her legacy.

Is Shirley based on a true story?

Yes,Shirleyis based on a true story. The American biographical drama film depicts the 1972 presidential run of Shirley Chisholm, who was already the first Black woman to be elected to the United States Congress.

The film is formulated to capture Shirley’s life and her achievements, as well as her hardship and disappointment.

While her run for president is certainly true, we can only speculate that the conversations did happen. They’re well-written enough to believe they did.

What happened to Shirley after she lost the election?

The film doesn’t depict anything after her loss, but Chisholm continued serving in the House of Representatives. In 1977, she was elected as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus. Chisholm retired from Congress in 1983, where she was succeeded by Major Owens.

Shirley and her husband Conrad divorced in 1977, and she went on to marry Arthur Hardwick. They stayed together for the rest of their lives.

What did you think of the ending of Shirley (2024)? Comment below.


  • Shirley (2024) Review

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Article by Romey Norton

Romey Norton joined Ready Steady Cut in June 2021 as a Film and TV writer, and since then, she has published over 400 articles for the website. With a Master of Arts Degree from the University of Leeds in 2017 and acting experience on screen, Romey uses her Film and TV knowledge to bring informative and detailed content for online publications and podcasting.

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Shirley Ending Explained - How the Netflix Movie Vindicates Shirley Chisholm's Presidential Campaign (2024)
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