Meet the People's Champ: Charlotta Bass
Charlotta Bass was born in 1874 in South Carolina. She was the 6th of 11 children and grew up attending public schools. Shend ended up moving in with her brother Ellis and started selling subscriptions for the local Black newspaper called the Providence Watchman. At the age of 36, she relocated to California where she got her first job at the California Eagle selling subscriptions. After the founder John Neimore died, she took on the role of editor for the paper and later became owner after purchasing it on an auction.
Under the leadership of Charlotta, The Eagle developed a large black readership and by 1925, The Eagle's circulation of 60,000 made it the largest African-American newspaper on the West Coast. It is credited as pioneering multiethnic politics, advocating Asian-American and Mexican-American civil rights in the 1940s. During the years of running the paper, Bass had to deal with several social issues building up in the West Coast including police brutality, restrictive housing covenants, and the rise of the Klu Klux Klan who threatened Bass on several occasions. But Bass always stood her ground and continued to cover issues that were pertinent to the Black community. She made it a statement to support the black soldiers of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry who were unjustly sentenced in the 1917 Houston race riot and also covered the case and supported the Scottsboro Boys, nine men who were framed and falsely accused in 1931.
Due to her involvement in the Black community and having a newspaper that was the voice of the Black community, Bass was under constant investigation by the FBI and was considered a national threat. They even tried to revoke her mailing permit so that newspapers could be circulated, but of course, Bass stood strong and won the case, allowing her to continue her work.As a strong leader in the community, Bass became involved in politics and joined several organizations like Universal Nego Improvement Association and the NAACP. In 1940, the Republican Party chose Bass as western regional director for Wendell Willkie's presidential campaign.
Three years later, she became the first African-American grand jury member for the Los Angeles County Court. She later joined the Progressive Party where she rose in the ranks quickly due to her activism. That year, she was nominated for vice president of the United States by the Progressive Party. She was the running mate of lawyer Vincent Hallinan. Bass became the first African-American woman to run for vice president of the United States.
Her platform called for civil rights, women's rights, an end to the Korean War, and peace with the Soviet Union and was endorsed by Black leaders such as WEB Dubois and Ada B Jackson.Bass used her voice, power and influence to be a champion for housing rights, labor rights, voting rights and ending discrimination. Shoutouts to Charlotta Bass for being the People’s Champion.
Happy Black History Month.
Happy Black History Month ✊🏿