Brodnax discusses first African-American presidential candidate on NPR
When George Edwin Taylor ran for president in 1904, fewer than 2,000 people voted for him. But as the first African American to run for the nation’s highest office, his bid was an historic one–even if it is little remembered. Professor of History Dr. David Brodnax, Sr., recently helped bring Taylor’s story to a wider audience during a discussion with NPR’s Linton Weeks.
Taylor ran for president as the candidate of the National Negro Liberty Party, sometimes known as the National Liberty Party. According to Brodnax, neither of the major parties would have considered nominating an African American candidate at that time. “Taylor, who had first been a Republican and then a Democrat, was the first to run for president because he was the first black politician who (1) no longer cared about what either major party thought of him and (2) was able to find allies among progressive whites who took the incredibly bold step of nominating him,” Brodnax told Weeks.
Yet despite Taylor’s ground-breaking candidacy, Brodnax said his story demonstrates that little has changed since then. “Today, African Americans overwhelmingly vote for a party that has been accused of taking their votes for granted while the other party seems to not at all support issues that matter to them. Most African Americans will not cast ballots for a third party, even when it nominates black candidates; for instance, the Green Party ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente in 2008, although to be fair in that campaign, black voters had the unprecedented choice of two different parties that had nominated a black person for president.”