William Monroe Trotter

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William Monroe Trotter

Birthplace: Chillicothe, Ross County, OH, United States
Death: April 07, 1934 (62)
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Place of Burial: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Lt. James Monroe Trotter, USA and Virginia Trotter
Husband of Geraldine Louise Trotter
Brother of James Monroe Trotter, Jr.; Maude A. Steward and Virginia Elizabeth Letitia Craft

Managed by: Erin Ishimoticha
Last Updated:

About William Monroe Trotter

William Monroe Trotter (sometimes just Monroe Trotter, April 7, 1872 – April 7, 1934) was a newspaper editor and real estate businessman based in Boston, Massachusetts, and an activist for African-American civil rights. He was an early opponent of the accommodationist race policies of Booker T. Washington, and in 1901 founded the Boston Guardian, an independent African-American newspaper, as a vehicle to express that opposition. Active in protest movements for civil rights throughout the 1900s and 1910s, he also revealed some of the differences within the African-American community. He contributed to the formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Born into a well-to-do family and raised in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, Trotter earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard University, and was the first man of color to earn a Phi Beta Kappa key there. Seeing an increase in segregation in northern facilities, he began to engage in a life of activism, to which he devoted his assets. He joined with W.E.B. DuBois in founding the Niagara Movement in 1905, a forerunner of the NAACP. Trotter's style was often divisive, and he ended up leaving that organization and founding the National Equal Rights League. His protest activities were sometimes seen to be at cross purposes to those of the NAACP.

In 1914 he had a highly publicized meeting with President Woodrow Wilson, in which he protested Wilson's introduction of segregation into the federal workplace. In Boston, Trotter succeeded in 1910 in shutting down productions of The Clansman but he was unsuccessful in 1915 with screenings of the movie The Birth of a Nation, which also portrayed the Ku Klux Klan in favorable terms. He was not able to influence the peace talks at the end of World War I, and was in later years a marginalized voice of protest. In an alliance with Roman Catholics, in 1921 he did get a revival screening banned of The Birth of a Nation. He died on his 62nd birthday after a possibly suicidal fall from his Boston home.

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William Monroe Trotter's Timeline

April 7, 1872
Chillicothe, Ross County, OH, United States
April 7, 1934
Age 62
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Fairview Cemetery, Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States