Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy Hacsi

Second Advisor

Elizabeth McCahill

Third Advisor

Vincent Cannato


William Monroe Trotter was a prominent citizen of Boston who created the African American newspaper the Guardian in 1901. His newspaper became his primary method for challenging Booker T. Washington. Trotter vehemently opposed most of Washington's political views, in fact, Trotter believed Washington was a serious threat to the African-American race as a whole. Trotter’s contemporary W.E.B. Du Bois is known as a major leader within the early civil rights movement in the United States. William Monroe Trotter presented many of the same ideas and arguments as Du Bois, in regards to African American suffrage, economic opportunity, education, oppression, and discrimination. Articles were published in the Guardian challenging Booker T. Washington and his political rhetoric weekly. Eventually, Trotter confronted Washington in Boston with hopes of starting a real debate. That confrontation led to the Boston Riot of 1903, and resulted in Trotter getting arrested. The Boston Riot proved to Trotter that an organization was needed to oppose Washington and his ideas, as well as champion African American Civil Rights. Trotter and Du Bois created the Niagara Movement to fill that void in 1905. The Niagara Movement was the precursor to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Regardless of his contributions, Trotter has been largely forgotten in American history. By researching articles from the Guardian and by highlighting his accomplishments, this paper will show that William Monroe Trotter should be considered a leader of the early civil rights movement similar to W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington.


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