Black Personality

The First Black Presidential Candidate No One Remembers

Title: The First Black Presidential Candidate No One Remembers: Pivotal Contributions Overlooked


When we think about the history of black presidential candidates in the United States, prominent figures like Barack Obama, Shirley Chisholm, and Jesse Jackson quickly come to mind. However, buried within the depths of history lies a pivotal figure whose contributions paved the way for those who followed. In this article, we shine a light on the first black presidential candidate that has been largely forgotten – Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass: A Beacon of Activism and Freedom

Born into slavery in Maryland around 1818, Frederick Douglass rose to become one of America’s most influential abolitionists and orators. After escaping slavery at the age of 20, Douglass dedicated his life to fighting for justice and advocating for the rights of African Americans. He became an eloquent speaker and prolific writer, using his platform to expose the evils of slavery and argue passionately for equality.

Douglass’ Political Ventures

In addition to his tireless activism for racial equality, Douglass entered politics in his quest for further rights and representation. Though predominantly known as an abolitionist orator, Douglass played a significant role in shaping American politics during a time fraught with racial tensions.

In 1872, just seven years after slavery was abolished with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, Frederick Douglass made an audacious move by becoming the first black presidential candidate from a major political party. He was nominated as Vice President alongside Victoria Woodhull on the Equal Rights Party ticket.

Challenges Faced by Douglass

While recognition is often given to groundbreaking campaigns that ultimately lead to victory or significant societal changes, it is essential not to overlook those that planted seeds without reaping immediate rewards. Despite having vast influence within various spheres of American society at that time, Douglass faced numerous challenges during his campaign.

Firstly, running for political office as a black man in the late 19th century was an audacious and challenging feat in itself. Society at the time was deeply entrenched in racial prejudices, making it difficult for Douglass to gain widespread support across the nation.

Furthermore, Douglass’ unconventional decision of aligning himself with Victoria Woodhull, a controversial figure in her own right, caused dissent among other prominent abolitionists, weakening his support base. The Equal Rights Party ticket wasn’t able to garner enough traction or financial backing necessary to mount a strong challenge for the presidency.

Legacy and Lessons

Although Frederick Douglass didn’t achieve victory in his presidential campaign, his unwavering commitment to racial justice later bore fruit. His efforts laid the foundation upon which future black candidates were able to build their campaigns and ultimately succeed.

Douglass’ candidature symbolized a significant milestone in American politics – it publicly challenged societal norms and expectations regarding race and representation. It pushed boundaries and set an example that would inspire generations of African Americans seeking to enter politics.

Unfortunately, Douglas’ groundbreaking campaign remains largely forgotten even by those who celebrate his abolitionist work. Today’s history books seldom mention him as a presidential candidate. However, acknowledging Frederick Douglass’ contributions as the first black presidential candidate helps us appreciate how far we have come while reminding us of the persistent challenges that remained.


Frederick Douglass not only stood at the forefront of the abolitionist movement but also dared to defy societal barriers by becoming America’s first black presidential candidate from a major party. Though his campaign did not result in electoral success, this tireless advocate for equality set an important precedent for future generations seeking political representation.

Let us not forget Frederick Douglass’ audacity to challenge norms and remember his invaluable contributions towards paving the way for more diverse and inclusive political landscapes we witness today.

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