Read the following information on William Monroe Trotter. Relate the information to the following questions to the best of your ability.
(1) William Monroe Trotter believed that Black People should not compromise with white people. Is that a wise position for a colonized people to take? Support your response.
(2) Trotter stressed independent Black political action and championed racially autonomous (self-governing) organizations. Does this suggest that Trotter's understanding of equality went beyond that of many of the so-called Black "leaders"?
(3) Trotter also spoke of "total liberation for Black People." What do you think he meant by that?
(4) Was it correct for Trotter to publicly denounce Black "leaders" the way he did?
(5) In your opinion, why is so little taught about William Monroe Trotter?
William Monroe Trotter laid the first stones of the modern protest movement. He mobilized the forces that checked the triumphant advance of Booker T. Washington's programs of accommodation and submission (vowing to destroy Washington and every thing he stood for), and opened a new cycle of struggle toward direct action and mass mobilization. In addition to his challenge to Booker T. Washington (the first such challenge to Washington's leadership), Trotter made some other noticeable contributions:
---Trotter personally defied President Woodrow Wilson when Wilson instructed that Black federal workers be segregated;
---At the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919 (which supposedly ended World War I), Trotter called for measures against racial discrimination;
---Trotter was among the first to set up picket lines to protest plays that were degrading to Black People.
Trotter clearly saw that Black People were oppressed collectively and a collective effort was needed if Black People hoped to destroy their oppressors. He opposed all compromises and contended for full equality in all things governmental, political, civil and judicial. Trotter repudiated the pretensions of the Black elite and moved ideological disputes within the Black community to a new level. He created a situation which made people stand up and take sides either for or against Booker T. Washington. It was this type of activity that moved WEB DuBois to abandon his scholarly and detached approach and take sides with the more radical Trotterites.
In 1901, Trotter founded the "Boston Guardian," a protest newspaper, and dedicated his time and effort to the interests of Black People. The motto of the "Guardian" was "For every right, with all thy might." One of its admitted purposes was to destroy Booker T. Washington and the ideas he advocated.
With Trotter, WEB DuBois and others rallied and organized an anti-Washington front. In 1905 they met near Niagara Falls and inaugurated the Niagara Movement, which marked the beginning of the modern protest era. Later, Trotter refused to attend the opening conference of the NAACP because there were too many whites involved (he knew they couldn't be trusted). Trotter stressed, instead, independent Black political action, and championed racially autonomous (self-governing) organizations. He established his own organization, the National Equal Rights League. As a leader of the National Equal Rights League, he continued to denounce Black "leaders" who compromised on the issue of total liberation for Black People.
Trotter was continuously active. During World War I he linked up the African American's struggle with the cause of the colonized peoples of Africa and Asia. Between 1922 and 1926, he led delegations to the White House and was at the forefront of direct action campaigns.
"We want laws enforced against the rich as well as the poor;" Trotter said, "against the capitalist as well as the laborer; against white as well as Black... We want a decent education for our children... They have a right to know, to think, to aspire."
Trotter's life was one of sacrifice and selflessness in the service of Black liberation. His dedication to Blacks was demonstrated by his complete failure to compromise with whites. For this reason he has been maligned and ignored by American historians. Unfortunately for them, and fortunately for Black People, he has been remembered. William Monroe Trotter is an uncompromising Profile in Black.