- NAME: William Monroe Trotter
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist, Entrepreneur, Journalist
- BIRTH DATE: April 07, 1872
- DEATH DATE: April 07, 1934
- Did You Know?: William Monroe Trotter was the first black student at Harvard University to become a Phi Beta Kappa member.
- EDUCATION: Harvard University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Chillicothe, Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: Boston, Massachusetts
- Full Name: William Monroe Trotter
- AKA: William Trotter
Best Known For
William Monroe Trotter was a Harvard-educated journalist and activist who championed equal rights for African Americans.
W.E.B. Du Bois and other activists started the Niagara Movement to end racial segregation and to lead the charge against Jim Crow laws.
In 1881, Booker T. Washington founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, which focused on training African Americans in agricultural pursuits. A political adviser and writer, Washington clashed with intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois.
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Born on April 7, 1872, in Chillicothe, Ohio, William Monroe Trotter went on to become the first Phi Betta Kappa graduate from Harvard,
"arvard was an inspiration to me because it was the exemplar of true American freedom, equality, and real democracy."
and a staunch opponent of the more conciliatory race-based ideas of Booker T. Washington. Trotter founded the paper The Guardian and helped W.E.B. Du Bois organize the Niagara Movement of 1905. He also opposed President Woodrow Wilson's segregationist policies.
William Monroe Trotter was born on April 7, 1872, in Chillicothe, Ohio, and raised in Hyde Park, Boston. His father, James, was a writer and former civil rights lieutenant who worked in real estate. Trotter excelled in academics growing up, becoming his predominantly-white high school's class president and attending Harvard University in the early 1890s. He made history as Harvard's first African-American student to become a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor fraternity before graduating magna cum laude from the school in 1895, later earning a master's degree. Stalled from going into banking due to discrimination, Trotter worked in real estate. In 1899, he married Geraldine L. Pindell.
Trotter became a staunch opponent of racial discrimination and found himself in conflict with Booker T. Washington, the era's most popular African-American leader. Washington advocated a more conciliatory approach with the status quo and pushed for African Americans to pursue vocational and agricultural training, which Trotter found to be a problematic stance considering Washington's luminary status among white political leaders.
In 1901, Trotter co-founded the Boston Literary and Historical Association. With colleague George Forbes, he established The Guardian newspaper to disseminate "propaganda against discrimination." The publication pushed for African-American equality and critiqued Washington's views.
In the summer of 1903, Washington visited the AME Zion Church in Boston to give a speech. During the meeting Trotter questioned Washington, which led to a shouting match and ensuing ruckus dubbed "The Boston Riot" by the press. Trotter was arrested, fined and sentenced to a month's imprisonment, during which time he read W.E.B. Du Bois' book The Souls of Black Folk.
Upon release, Trotter co-established the National Negro Suffrage League and in 1905 worked with Du Bois to help organize The Niagara Movement, a group of African-American leaders who gathered in Canada and set forth a manifesto calling for full equal rights for black citizens, with the words, "We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social."
Though Trotter later attended the 1909 conference that would lead to the creation of the NAACP, he wouldn't align himself with the civil rights organization due to his insistence on there being an all-black group and thus focused on developing the National Equal Rights League.
Trotter also voiced his opinion in the realm of presidential politics.
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