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Charles Russell (1907)
*On this date in 1860, Charles Russell was born. He was a white-American journalist, opinion columnist, newspaper editor, and political activist.
Charles Edward Russell was born in Davenport, Iowa, a transportation center on the Mississippi River on the far eastern border of the state. His father, Edward Russell, was editor of the Davenport Gazette and an abolitionist. The Russell family was staunchly religious Christian Evangelicals, with his grandfather a Baptist minister and his father a Sunday school superintendent and a leader of the Iowa YMCA. Russell attended St. Johnsbury Academy, in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, for his high school education and worked under his father at the newspaper.
From 1894 to 1902, Russell wrote for several newspapers working successively for the New York World, the New York American, and the Chicago American. In 1908, Russell joined the Socialist Party of America. In 1909, Russell was among inspirational men and women such as Oswald Garrison Villard, William Walling, Ida B. Wells, and W. E. B. Du Bois, Jane Addams, Lillian Wald, and others worked together to establish the (NAACP). Russell's participation in founding the NAACP stemmed from his experiences with violence and racism as a child. One of the most memorable experiences included his father nearly being hanged simply for opposing slavery.
Russell served and participated on the board of directors for the NAACP for the remainder of his life. In 1912 he was one of the editors of The Coming Nation, a socialist newspaper, and was a candidate for Governor of New York in 1910 and 1912 and for U.S. Senator from New York in 1914. He also ran for Mayor of New York City. Russell's belief that Germany was an undeniable threat to the US in 1915 made him unexpectedly come out to support President Woodrow Wilson's war "preparedness campaign." That decision politically made Russell into a tight corner as the majority of the party's rank and file remained strongly antiwar.
Russell would ultimately be expelled from the Socialist Party in 1917 for supporting American intervention in the First World War. Russell subsequently became an editorial writer for the social democratic magazine The New Leader. The author of several biography and social commentary books, he won the 1928 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for The American Orchestra and Theodore Thomas. Charles Russell died on April 23, 1941, in Washington, DC, at 80.