Chisholm Trail U.S. Fourth-Grader Sets out to Meet Her Idol

Article excerpt

Thelma Hilliard met a milestone in American history - and walked away with a kiss and a lipstick smudge on her cheek.

The fourth-graders in Thelma's class at Jackson Park School in University City were asked to write essays about the person they admired most. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a popular subject. So was Rosa Parks.

Thelma chose Shirley Chisholm, and drew a portrait of her for extra credit. "She was the first black lady of Congress," Thelma explained.

Chisholm, who in 1972 also became the first black woman to run for president, was speaking Thursday night at Webster University. A meeting was arranged.

Thelma squirmed in a chair in Sunnen Lounge, giggling with her parents, Lawrence and June Hilliard. But she immediately recognized the gray-haired woman who strolled by. "That's her," she said, and jumped up to greet the object of her admiration.

The 9-year-old was nearly as big as the former New York congresswoman, who weighed 98 pounds when elected to the House of Representatives in 1968. "I'm a great big fat thing of 115 now," smiled Chisholm.

Chisholm marveled at Thelma's artwork and said it would take a prominent place among portraits given her by children throughout the country. …