Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First African American on a presidential ticket in the 20th century: James W. Ford (Communist Party USA)

James W. Ford - WikipediaMark Solomon notes that this was part of a broader campaign:
"In 1932 the CP ran dozens of black candidates in every region for everything from alderman and mayor to lieutenant governor and governor to member of Congress. All the Party candidates stressed the issues of unemployment insurance and racial equality. Getting elected was not a serious goal. Campaigns were 'mass actions,' political sounding boards; in Ford's words, they were a means 'to mobilize workers in the struggle for their immediate needs.' When asked about chances for the Party's black candidates, Ford replied, 'The Communist Party is not stupid; we know that better than 4 million Negroes in this country cannot vote...and besides this, there is a great anti-Negro sentiment which the Party goes up against when it puts forth Negroes as their candidates.'"
The Communist Party USA won more votes with Ford on the ticket than in any other race:

1924William Z. FosterBenjamin Gitlow38,669 (0.13%)
1928William Z. FosterBenjamin Gitlow48,551 (0.13%)
1932William Z. FosterJames W. Ford103,307 (0.26%)
1936Earl BrowderJames W. Ford79,315 (0.17%)
1940Earl BrowderJames W. Ford48,557 (0.10%)