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Celebrating Black Heroes: Charlotta Bass

(1874-1969)

We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to a remarkable woman who has largely been forgotten. Her name is Charlotta Bass, and in 1952, she became the first black woman to run for vice president in the United States. 

Bass received endorsements from prominent civil rights leaders like Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois.

Bass received endorsements from prominent civil rights leaders like Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. Though her ticket virtually stood no chance of winning, as the Voting Rights Act did not exist and schools were still segregated, it still gave her a platform to raise awareness on racial issues.

Voicing concerns over the treatment of African Americans wasn’t new to Bass. She was a longtime editor, publisher, and eventually owner of The California Eagle, the West Coast’s oldest and most circulated black newspaper. For 40 years, she used the newspaper to shed light on racial issues including police brutality, discriminatory hiring and housing practices, and glorification of the Ku Klux Klan.

Though she was viewed as being radical, she accomplished her main goal—placing racial equality in the national spotlight.

She denounced both political parties for neglecting Black and women’s rights, and she took an uncompromising stance against racial injustices. Both actions resulted in numerous death threats. She was labeled a communist and placed under FBI and CIA surveillance. Though she was viewed as being radical, she accomplished her main goal—placing racial equality in the national spotlight.

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