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Sat, 02.14.1874

Charlotta Bass, newspaper publisher, politician

Charlotta Bass

*This date in 1874 marks the birthday of Charlotta Amanda Bass. She was an African American newspaper publisher, editor, and civil rights activist.

Bass was born in Sumter, South Carolina on Valentine’s Day. She relocated to California for health reasons. Charlotta Bass took over control of The California Eagle in 1912 and served as its publisher until she retired in 1951. She and her husband Joseph Bass, who had served as editor of the Topeka and Montana Plain Dealer used The Eagle to push for reforms.  They combated such issues as the derogatory images rampant in D.W. Griffith's film Birth of A Nation; Los Angeles' discriminatory hiring practices; the Ku Klux Klan; police brutality; and restrictive housing covenants.

Bass' life was threatened on numerous occasions. She was branded a communist, and the FBI placed her under surveillance on the charge that her paper was disloyal. However, this never deterred her or The California Eagle from seeking civil and political rights for African Americans and the disadvantaged. In 1952 she became the first African American woman to run for national office as the Vice Presidential candidate for the Progressive Party. She died in 1969.

Reference:
The biographical dictionary of Black Americans
by Rachel Krantz and Elizabeth A.Ryan
Copyright 1992, Facts on File, New York, NY
ISBN 0-8160-2324-7

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