Profile of Charlotte Bass



A person Frances admired greatly both as a friend and mentor was Charlotta Bass. Bass was the publisher, and managing editor of the California Eagle, one of the oldest Negro newspapers in Los Angeles. In 1952, she was nominated for Vice President of the U.S. on the Progressive Party ticket of Henry Wallace. She was the first Negro in the history of the country to run for the second highest office in the U.S.
Charlotta Spears came to Los Angeles in September 10, 1910 to recuperate from ill health. After being employed as an office girl and solicitor on the Providence Watchman, she was hired at $5.00 a week by Joseph Neimore who at the time owned the Eagle. He used the newspaper as “a watchtower, pointing the way for freedom and progress for his people.”The newspaper helped lure many Blacks to the West Coast in search of a better life. Suffering from ill health and frustration due to lack of support, Neimore decided to make a business tour of the state. He turned over the responsibility for getting the newspaper out to Spears. His health continuing to fail, Neimore summoned Spears to his bedside and made her promise to keep the paper alive. After his death, the young woman purchased the newspaper from Neimore’s daughter for $10.00 cash and $150 in overdue bills. She renamed the newspaper the California Eagle.

When Joseph B. Bass, one of the founders of The Topeka Plain Dealer came to Los Angeles, he met and married Spears. With Charlotta Spears Bass as publisher and managing editor, and her husband, Joseph Bass as editor, the California Eagle “rededicated itself to the task of waging bloodless, but fearless war” against the prejudice and discrimination African Americans encountered in Los Angeles, a war that Charlotta Bass continued long after her husband’s death.

Along with using her paper to expose racial discrimination, high unemployment, and overcrowded housing, Charlotta Bass organized the Homeowners Association to help overturn Los Angeles’s Restrictive Covenant, and in 1949, her newspaper sponsored a huge rally for her friend, Paul Robeson, the first such rally after Peekskill.


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