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Before Kamala Harris made history, it was Charlotta Bass



As a candidate for the country’s second highest office under the Progressive Party ticket in 1952, she addressed congressional attendees on March 30 of that year.

“I stand before you with great pride,” she said. “This is a milestone in American political life. A milestone for myself, for my people, for all women. For the first time in the history of this nation, a political party has elected a Negro woman to the second highest office in earth. “
In a stalemate over her minimal chances of winning, her campaign slogan was, “Win or lose, we win by raising issues.” Her party lost to Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, but her campaign decades ago helped open the door for minority candidates today, according to experts.

“Bass certainly paved the way for today̵

7;s Kamals in terms of its identity and its coalition-building policy,” said Keisha N. Blain, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global War for Freedom.

“But it is just as important to talk about the countless black women whose work has formed the backbone of the Democratic Party.”

Charlotta A. Bass was a Progressive Party candidate for vice president in 1952.

Bass made history before running for VP

Bass started making history long before she ran for office. The political activist was born in South Carolina in 1874. She later moved to the West Bank, where she became one of the first African-American women to own and operate a California Eagle newspaper.

Her fight against injustice began decades before her political offer. She used her newspaper as a platform to highlight issues such as police brutality, restrictive housing, the Ku Klax Klan and civil liberties.

She was such a great advocate for civil liberties, women’s rights and immigration, she received death threats. The FBI also placed her under surveillance after she was labeled a communist, government records show.

When Bass’s husband died in 1934, she stepped up her activism by joining groups fighting against injustice. She also founded the National Sojourner for the Truth and Justice Club, which worked to improve working conditions for Black women.

“Throughout her career, Bass has evolved and collaborated with various political groups, capturing the richness and complexity of Black politics,” Blain said.

She served as chair of a chapter of the Universal Association for the Advancement of Creators, engaged with the more moderate NAACP, and was a leader among leftists and communists in the Sojourners for Truth and Justice, she added.

“Bass’ ability to move within radical and key circles – and her ability to draw an important picture from each – is an important lesson for Harris as she strives to form a successful political coalition with Biden,” he said. Blain.

While Bass was a key figure in politics, Blain said, equally important are Charlene Mitchell, Shirley Chisholm and countless other Black women who have worked – often behind the scenes – to make minorities in politics.

Vincent Hallinan (left) Progressive presidential candidate Charlotta Bass and Paul Robeson.

“Mitchell ran for president on the Communist Party ticket in 1968 and Chisholm campaigned in the 1977 Democratic presidential primary. These women paved the way for Harris and other Black women in presidential politics,” she said.

The Progressive Party candidate for President was Vincent Hallinan, a lawyer who ran for office after being jailed for six months on negligence charges.
Denise Lynn, a history professor at South Indiana University, said the Progressive Party was opposed to the United States serving as a global police force, especially in countries where most people were not White.
“The Progressive Party developed … on a platform that opposed militarism, war, and political competition with the Soviet Union in favor of social justice, economic equality, and peace. Basi was the right instrument to get the Progressive Party to vote in California,” Lynn wrote in a piece published this year.

Hallinan received 140,000 votes.


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