Founded by an escaped slave from Missouri, John J. Neimore, The California Eagle was one of the oldest and longest running Black newspapers in Los Angeles, California. Under the direction of Neimore, the newspaper was first called, The California Owl. The newspaper was started to help ease the transitions of black settlers to the West. Settlers only had to check the paper to find information about housing, jobs, and other information to make living in the west less complicated. The newspaper became one of the leading papers of the early 1900s under the leadership of Charlotta A. Bass, who took control of the paper after the death of Neimore in 1912. She later renamed the newspaper The California Eagle.
Bass, along with her husband and a veteran journalist from Kansas, decided to launch a more militant campaign using the paper to end discrimination and segregation. The plan was to direct the newspaper towards political and social issues affecting African Americans locally and nationally. At every opportunity, the paper challenged America to uphold the rights stated in the Constitution to all Americans.
If there was an injustice taking place in America, it was being spoken against in this paper. In 1914, articles and editorials were published in opposition to D. W. Griffith’s film, “Birth of A Nation,” due to its derogatory portrayals of African Americans and celebratory depiction of Ku Klux Klan violence. The publication spoke out against the military injustices during both World War I and World War II. After the wars, The California Eagle focused on the injustices taking place throughout the state.
The California Eagle joined forces with other papers such as The Chicago Defender, Afro-American, and The Norfolk Journalin order to give support to the Scottsboro Nine, the young men accused of raping two white women aboard a freight train. The paper was also a part of the campaign “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work,” which discouraged blacks from patronizing establishments that practiced racist hiring practices.
In 1951, Charlotta Bass sold The California Eagle to Loren Miller, attorney and former Eagle reporter. Bass had served her community for more than 40 years for the fight for equal rights, and in 1952, she became the first black woman to run for national office as the Progressive Party’s Vice Presidential candidate. The Eagle continued to press in the same direction as Charlotta Bass pursued complete integration for African Americans throughout all sectors of society. Miller sold the paper in 1964, and under new ownership the paper shut down for good that same year.