Charlotta, Not Kamala, First Black Woman to Accept the Nomination for the Office of Vice President of the United States — 68 Years Ago

Sixty-eight years before Kamala Harris made “revisionist history” by being the first black woman to accept the nomination for the Presidency, another black woman and avowed communist accepted the nomination for the Vice Presidency and became the running mate of Vincent Hallinan of the Progressive Party.

First black woman in America to run for the Vice Presidency of the United States

In ground-breaking California style, Charlotta Spears Bass, the first black woman to own and publish a newspaper in America accepted that nomination.

According to Bass, she had no dreams of winning, but she campaigned with the slogan: “Win or lose, we win by raising the issues.”

Her foray into the world of print media started with her moving to Providence, Rhode Island to live with her brother. She worked for the black-owned Providence Watchmen and sold ads for ten years.

Her health prompted a move to California where she worked for The Eagle. When Publisher John J. Neimore passed away, he had arranged for Bass to own The Eagle, as well as a companion printing business. She changed the name to The California Eagle and expanded its coverage to include issues of interest to African Americans.

The future VP pick hired Joseph Blackburn Bass as editor of The California Eagle in 1912 and eventually married him. She and her husband pushed reforms for issues, such as civil rights, police brutality, and housing. The editor unexpectedly died in 1934 and Bass threw herself into her work and affiliated herself with organizations, such as the Urban League, NAACP and Civil Rights Congress.

When she retired from the paper in 1951, she entered the political arena advocating for women’s rights, civil rights and immigration. Bass passed away in 1969.

While Kamala Harris wants to think that she’s the first black woman to run for the Vice Presidency, the truth is, the way was paved for her by other historical firebrands. The truth is out there.


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