Niagara Movement

By: Cerone White

On this day in history, July 11, 1905, W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter organized the Niagara Movement, which demanded the abolition of all race distinctions. The Niagara Movement was largely in opposition to Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of Accommodationism. Dubbed the “mighty current”, the Niagara Movement was in response to a call to oppose racial segregation and disenfranchisement. The Movement drafted a “Declaration of Principles,” part of which stated: “We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults.”

William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.” Du Bois was born February 23, 1868, in Great Barrington, MA and he died at the age of 95 on August 27, 1963, in Accra, Ghana. During the Niagara Movement W.E.B Du Bois was unable to get his information out and publicize their ideals to other African Americans, but most black periodicals were owned by publishers sympathetic to Washington. In order to accomplish this, Du Bois bought a printing press and in December of 1905 he started the publication of ‘Moon Illustrated Weekly Magazine’, the first African-American publication. Du Bois used this platform to his full advantage and attack against Washington’s positions. This magazine lasted eight months. Shortly after the closer of the Moon Illustrated Weekly Magazine, Du Bois founded and edited another medium of publication called the Horizon: A Journal of the Color Line in 1907.

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The Niagara Movement ended in 1907 when William Monroe Trotter departed. His departure negatively impacted on the organization as did disagreements about which party to support in the 1908 election. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) predecessor was The Niagara Movement. Thirty-two prominent African-American leaders met in 1905 to discuss the challenges facing people of color, these leaders were particular concerned by the Southern states disfranchisement of blacks where a series of laws, new constitutions, and practices deliberately used to prevent black citizens from registering to vote. Hotels in the U.S. were segregated, and the members of the group convened in Canada at the Erie Beach Hotel on the Canadian side of the Niagara River in Fort Erie, Ontario. As a result of this group coming together, it came to be known as the Niagara Movement.