As a candidate for the nation’s second-highest office under the Progressive Party ticket in 1952, she addressed convention attendees on March 30 that year.
“Bass certainly paved the way for the Kamalas of today, in terms of both her identity and her politics of coalition-building,” said Keisha N. Blain, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom.”
“But it is equally important to talk about the countless Black women whose labor has formed the backbone of the Democratic Party.”
Bass made history before she ran for VP
Her fight against injustice started decades before her political bid. She used her newspaper as a platform to highlight issues such as police brutality, restrictive housing, the Ku Klax Klan and civil liberties.
When Bass’ husband died in 1934, she ramped up her activism by joining groups fighting against injustices. She also founded the National Sojourner for Truth and Justice Club, which worked to improve working conditions for Black women.
“Throughout her career, Bass evolved and worked with various political groups, capturing the richness and complexity of Black politics,” Blain said.
She served as president of a chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, engaged with the more moderate NAACP, and was a leader among leftists and communists in the Sojourners for Truth and Justice, she added.
“Bass’s ability to move within radical and more mainstream circles — and her ability to draw significant insight from each — is an important lesson for Harris as she strives to craft a successful political coalition with Biden,” Blain said.
While Bass was a key figure in politics, Blain said, equally important are Charlene Mitchell, Shirley Chisholm and countless of other Black women who’ve worked — oftentimes behind the scenes — to make minorities in politics mainstream.
“Mitchell ran for president on the Communist Party ticket in 1968, and Chisholm campaigned in the 1972 Democratic presidential primary. These women paved the way for Harris and other Black women in presidential politics,” she said.
Hallinan got 140,000 votes.