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Charlotta Bass elected to California Newspaper Hall of Fame

Charlotta Bass elected to California Newspaper Hall of Fame

Charlotta Bass

Charlotta Bass

The California Press Foundation will induct the late Charlotta Bass into the California Newspaper Hall of Fame in December.

Bass (1874-1969) was managing editor and publisher of the California Eagle from 1912 to 1951. The Eagle, founded in 1879, was one of the longest-running African-American newspapers in the West.

As a crusading journalist and political activist, Bass was at the forefront of the civil rights struggles of her time, especially in Los Angeles, but also in California and the nation.

Bass was also a political candidate at the local, state and national level, including running for vice president of the United States on the Progressive Party ticket in 1952. She used the newspaper, along with direct-action campaigns and the political process, to challenge inequality for Blacks, workers, women and other minorities in Los Angeles.

Bass fought important battles against job and housing discrimination, police brutality and media stereotyping, and for immigrant and women’s rights and civil liberties.

She paid a price for her outspokenness. Her life was threatened on numerous occasions. The FBI placed her under surveillance on the charge that her newspaper was seditious and continued to monitor her until her death. Accused of being a Communist, in 1950, she was called before the California Legislature’s Joint Fact-Finding Committee on un-American Activities. The accusations began to take a toll on her effectiveness in the community and her ability to sell her newspaper. In 1951, she sold the paper and continued her work in the political realm.

Considering the sum of her career as she was completing her autobiography, “Forty Years” (1960), Bass wrote: “It has been a good life that I have had, though a very hard one, but I know the future will be even better. And as I think back I know that is the only kind of life: In serving one’s fellow man one serves himself best …”

Bass ran for several elected offices, including the Los Angeles City Council, Congress, and the U.S. vice presidency. She was also a founding member of California’s Independent Progressive Party, part of the national Progressive Party, a third-party movement.

Cal Press will induct Bass into the Hall of Fame on Dec. 1 during its 140th Annual Winter Meeting in San Francisco.

The Winter Meeting begins Thursday afternoon, Nov. 30, with a First Amendment Coalition presentation, “Fake News & the First Amendment.” It will be followed by a reception and entertainment by the Irish Newsboys, dinner and a talk by Greg Lucas, California’s state librarian.

Awards presented Thursday night include the FAC Open Government Award, Justus F. Craemer Newspaper Executive of the Year Award and Jack Bates Award for distinguished service to the California Press.

A Friday luncheon panel discussion on housing and homelessness will be followed by the presentation of these awards: California Newspaper Hall of Fame, Philip N. McCombs Achievement Award and Mark Twain Award.

Registration for the 140th Annual Cal Press Winter Meeting is open now. Please visit the Cal Press website for details. The deadline to book rooms at the Marines’ Memorial Club & Hotel is Nov. 8. Booking information is on the Winter Meeting page at Cal-Press.org.

Previously: Panel to cover housing issues Dec. 1

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