Is Sen. Kamala Harris actually the first black woman to run for Vice President?
No. This title actually belongs to Charlotta Bass, another black woman from California, who joined the Progressive Party ticket in 1952. Sen. Kamala Harris is the first black woman selected for a VP role in a 'major party' ticket.
Ravi Perry, Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science at Howard University
Amanda Meeker, Executive Director at The California Museum
Dr. Lara Brown, Associate Professor and Director of The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University
National Park Service Fact Sheet, Charlotta Bass
The selection of Sen. Kamala Harris as Joe Biden's Vice President led to many celebrating that she is the first black woman to run for this prestigious position.
But it turns out this title actually belongs to Charlotta Bass, who was the Vice Presidential candidate in a long-shot campaign in 1952.
Sen. Harris' nomination remains historic, as she is the first black woman selected as the VP for a 'major party.'
Amanda Meeker, the Executive Director for the California Museum said that Bass was well known on the West Coast for her role as the publisher of the California Eagle, a well-known African American newspaper in Los Angeles.
"I would describe her as a bold trail-blazer," said Meeker.
Meeker told the Verify Team that Bass first moved to California in 1910, where she started working for the paper. Bass wrote in favor of equal rights for both women and people of color.
"She stood for equality," said Meeker. "Some of her big fights were against red-lining. Equal employment opportunities, equal housing opportunities."
Bass was also a vocal leader in the political landscape of California, with an independent streak. She was a delegate to the California Republican convention, before switching to the Democratic Party. Eventually she left both parties, becoming the candidate for Vice President in the Progressive Party in 1952.
Ravi Perry, the Chair of the Department of Political Science at Howard University, said that the Progressive Party ticket received the third highest amount of votes in that election cycle.
"They were able to get together about 140,000 votes," he said. "In 1952 that supported this candidacy. So that says that we have had folks in this country - certainly for 60 to 70 years - that have been comfortable with a black woman for vice president."
Perry said that this historic run acted as a blueprint for future generations.
"Charlotta Bass certainly laid the seeds for black woman's active political engagement in American politics," he said. "And we've seen it for decades."
Dr. Lara Brown, an Associate Professor and the Director of The Graduate School of Political Management at The George Washington University said that Harris' nomination is still historic, because this is the first time a woman of color has reached this level within a major party.
"What is important about this," she said. "Is a recognition that woman and woman of color are an important part of the Democrat coalition."