Saturday, February 19, 2011
Charlotta A. Bass Newspaper Publisher-Editor, Civil Rights Activist
Bass was born in Sumter, South Carolina on February 14, 1874. She relocated to California in 1910 for health reasons. Charlotta Bass took over control of The California Eagle, upon the death of the paper's founder, John James Neimore, in 1912 and served as its publisher until 1951.
She and her husband Joseph Bass, who had served as editor of the Topeka Plain Dealer and the Montana Plain Dealer used The Eagle to push for reforms. They combatted such issues as the derogatory images rampant in D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of A Nation; Los Angeles' discriminatory hiring practices; the Klu Klux Klan; police brutality; and restrictive housing covenants.
Bass' uncompromising stance against racial injustice resulted in her life being threatened on numerous occasions. She was branded a communist, and the FBI placed her under surveillance on the charge that her paper was seditious. However, this never deterred her or her paper from seeking civil and political rights for African Americans and the disadvantaged.
Charlotta Bass and Paul Robeson, Los Angeles, 1949
Bass retired from the newspaper business in 1951. Her later years were devoted to politics. In 1952 she became the first African-American woman to run for national office as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket.
She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12,1969.
Bass, Charlotta. Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of A Newspaper: 1960. (Unpublished Manuscript Available at Southern California Research Library and Schomburg)
Jeter, James Phillip, Ph.D. Rough Flying: The California Eagle - (1879-1965) (AJHA Convention Paper)