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Thu, 04.07.1842

William Monroe Trotter, Publisher and Activist born

William M.Trotter

*William Monroe Trotter was born on this date in 1872. He was a Black news publisher and activist and perhaps the most militant of the known civil rights activist of the 19th century.

An honor student from Boston, Trotter was the first Black member of Phi Beta Kappa. Between 1897 and 1906 he worked as an insurance and mortgage broker in Boston, Massachusetts. He co-founded the Boston Guardian, a militant newspaper, in 1901, for the purpose of "propaganda against discrimination." He and his wife Geraldine P. Trotter ran the publication.  In 1905, Trotter assisted in founding the Niagara Movement but refused to join the NAACP because he felt it to be too moderate and instead formed the National Equal Rights League.

In 1919, Trotter appeared at the Paris Peace Conference in an unsuccessful effort to have the organization outlaw racial discrimination. The State Department had denied him a passport to attend, but he had reached France by having himself hired as a cook on a ship.  Because of his strident unwillingness to work with established groups, the Civil Rights Movement has been slow to recognize Trotter.  But many of his methods were to be adopted in the 1950s, notably his use of nonviolent protest.  In 1903, Trotter deliberately disrupted a meeting in Boston at which Booker T. Washington was scheduled to speak; his arrest was to gain publicity for his militant position.

He also led demonstrations against events, plays, and films that glorified Ku Klux Klan. William Monroe Trotter died on April 7, 1934 in Boston.

The African American Atlas
Black History & Culture an Illustrated Reference
by Molefi K. Asanta and Mark T. Mattson
Macmillam USA, Simon & Schuster, New York
ISBN 0-02-864984-2

ACLU Racial Justice


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