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Black History Daily: Who was the First Black Woman Newspaper Publisher?
Posted By: Stacie Coulter on September 06, 2011

Charlotta Bass (1880-1969) is thought to be the first woman to own and publish a newspaper in this country. She bought the California Owl in 1912 and ran it for some forty years. Bass was the Progressive Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1952, another first for a black woman. Through her journalistic and political interests, she worked tirelessly in behalf of elimination of racism and s*xism. Bass was born in Sumter, South Carolina, and moved to Providence, Rhode Island, at age twenty, to work for a local newspaper. After ten years, health reasons prompted her to move from Providence to Los Angeles, where she took a part-time job with the Eagle. This paper was suffering from both poor management and its editor’s ill health. When Bass assumed control of the paper in 1912, she renamed it the California Eagle.
She was married to John Bass in the same year, and they combined their efforts toward combating racial discrimination. The film Birth of a Nation, injustice in the military during World War I, the 1919 Pan-African Conference, the 1931 alleged rape case in Scottsboro, Alabama, and discrimination in employment were among the concerns that came under their scrutiny. In her lifetime, Bass ran for three political offices, but was successful in no case. She was, however, the first black grand jury member for the Los Angeles County Court. Her memoirs, published in 1960 as Forty Years: Memoirs from the Pages of a Newspaper, reveal the part that black people played in the development of Los Angeles.
Sources: Jesse Carney Smith, Black Firsts, pp. 405

To learn more go to: http://www.socallib.org/bass/story/index.h...

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