WILLIAM M. TROTTER

WILLIAM M. TROTTER

William Trotter, militant member of the Niagara Movement and founder of The Boston Guardian, was bom in Chillicothe, Ohio, but raised in Boston. He went to an all-white high school before attending Har¬ vard and gaining admittance to the presti¬ gious Phi Beta Kappa fraternity.

He gradu¬ ated Harvard in 1894 and took a job in real estate after his father’s example. In 1899 Trotter quit the company and opened his own, which he gave up in 1901 to found The Boston Guardian, which grew into the most militant African-American publica¬ tion of its age.

Trotter’s Guardian was used as a major tool against appeasement. Demanding equality without compromise, he filled its pages with attacks on the African-Ameri¬ cans who worked closely with white Americans to slowly alter racist policies.

He was a combatant, a man willing to enter confrontations and disrupt powerful confer¬ ences in order to demand immediate and complete equality.He was known for acts such as halting a church meeting speech by Booker T. Wash¬ ington (see no. 24) in 1903. He spent 30 days in jail, along with fellow protester Greenville Martin, because he had refused to desist.

He was a passionate voice against US President Woodrow Wilson’s segrega¬ tion of Washington departments, and a man who would not join the National Associa¬ tion for Advancement of Colored People, after being very active in the preceding Nia¬ gara Movement, because he did not tmst the white members of the alliance.

Along with the publication of the leftist Guardian, Trotter was responsible for the founding of the National Equal Rights League, which was supported by an entire¬ ly black membership and stood on a platform of more militant demands.

Though Trotter moved few mountains with his powerful protests and his impassioned demands, he was an important influence on the growing power of the black press in America, and a fearless voice against even the subtlest forms of racism.

In 1934, Trotter apparently leapt to his death from the roof of his Boston boardinghouse. He died a lonely man after spending much of his life in brilliant opposition to society’s bias. His actions were always in answer to a growing public demand for greater civil rights.