Charlotta Bass

American newspaper publisher

Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass (February 14, 1874 – April 12, 1969) was an American educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist. In 1952, Bass became the first African-American woman nominated for Vice President, as a candidate of the Progressive Party.

Charlotta Bass (circa 1901 date)



Speech at Progressive Party Convention (1952)

  • Included in Black Women in White America: A Documentary History by Gerda Lerner (1972)
  • For the first time in the history of this nation a political party has chosen a Negro woman for the second highest office in the land. It is a great honor to be chosen as a pioneer, and a great responsibility.
  • I am a Negro woman. My people came before the Mayflower.
  • I am more concerned with what is happening to my people in my country than war. We have lived through two wars and seen their promises turn to bitter ashes.
  • For forty years I have been a working editor and publisher of the oldest Negro newspaper in the West. During those forty years I stood on a watch tower watching the tide of racial hatred and bigotry rising against my people and against all people who believe the Constitution is something more than a piece of yellowed paper to be shut off in a glass cage in the archives. I have stood watch over a home to protect a Negro family against the outrages of the Ku Klux Klan. And I have fought the brazen attempts to drive Negroes from their home under restrictive covenants. I have challenged the great corporations which extort huge profits from my people, and forced them to employ Negroes in their plants. I have stormed city councils and state legislatures and the halls of Congress demanding real representation for my people.
  • could I retire when I saw that slavery had been abolished but not destroyed; that democracy had been won in World War I, but not for my people; that fascism had been wiped out in World War II, only to take roots in my own country where it blossomed and bloomed and sent forth its fruits to poison the land my people had fought to preserve!... Where were the leaders of my nation-yes, my nation, for God knows my whole ambition is to see and make my nation the best in the world-where were these great leaders when these things happened?
  • To retire meant to leave this world to these people who carried oppression to Africa, to Asia, who made profits from oppression in my own land. To retire meant to leave the field to evil.
  • This is what we fight against. We fight to live. We want the $65 billion that goes for death to go to build a new life. Those billions could lift the wages of my people, give them jobs, give education and training and new hope to our youth, free our sharecroppers, build new hospitals and medical centers. The $8 billion being spent to rearm Europe and crush Asia could rehouse all my people living in the ghettos of Chicago and New York and every large city in the nation.
  • We fight that all people shall live. We fight to send our money to end colonialism for the colored peoples of the world, not to perpetuate it in Malan's South Africa, Churchill's Malaya, French Indo-China and the Middle East.
  • Can you conceive of the party of Taft and Eisenhower and MacArthur and McArthy and the big corporations calling a Negro woman to lead the good fight in 1952? Can you see the party of Truman, of Russell of Georgia, of Rankin of Mississippi, of Byrnes of South Carolina, of Acheson, naming a Negro woman to lead the fight against enslavement?
  • I am proud that I am the choice of the leaders of my own people and leaders of all those who understand how deeply the fight for peace is one and indivisible with the fight for Negro equality.
  • Frederick Douglass would rejoice, for he fought not only slavery but the oppression of women.
  • I give you as my slogan in this campaign-"Let my people go."
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