Kerri K. Greenidge in her book BLACK RADICAL THE LIFE AND TIMES OF WILLIAM MONROE TROTTER isa bold revelation of civil rights history in America. The insight into this heretofore obscure figure in the civil rights movement is a great historical contribution. The research and careful narrative evolve into a tableau of the life of this early activist who followed in the Boston tradition of William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator with his own publication The Guardian.
Trotter turned Boston and New England civil rights activism on its head taking a no holds barred approach at his overflow rallies at Faneuil Hall and his in-your-face challenges to Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Booker T. Washington. No Tuskegee philosophy for Monroe Trotter as his demands for equality were absolute. So strong were his protestations that even staunch advocates such as W.E.B. Dubois and Frederick Douglas stood back.
“Unlike other members od Du Bois’s ‘talented tenth’ (mostly light-skinned black elites) Monroe Trotter would never confine his civil rights activism to the circle of black elite on Martha’s Vineyard, or the coterie of fellow light skinned northern born professionals with whom he socialized in Washington D.C., and Brooklyn. Despite his New England upbringing and Victorian sensibilities, Trotter provided a voice for thousands of disenchanted, politically marginalized black working people for whom neither the National Negro Business League nor the NAACP had much relevance.”
Follow this Harvard man’s radical fight for a Federal antilynching bill and the enforcement of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as he defiantly confronted the white power brokers of the time.
I am thankful to Kerri Greenidge for telling this story.