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Niagara Movement


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The Niagara Movement was founded at Niagara Falls in 1905 under the leadership of William Du Bois. The group drew up a plan for aggressive action and demanded: manhood suffrage, equal economic and educational opportunities, an end to segregation and full civil rights. The Niagara group virtually came to an end with the establishment of the the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) in 1909.


July 11, 1905: The Niagara Movement

On July 11, 1905, W. E. B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter convened a conference of Black leaders to renounce Booker T. Washington’s accommodation-ism. They met at Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada, because hotels on the U.S. side of the falls barred African Americans.

The 29 men in attendance set forth a platform that demanded freedom of speech and criticism a free press manhood suffrage abolition of all caste distinctions based on race or color recognition of the principle of human brotherhood belief in the dignity of labor and a united effort to realize these ideals under wise and courageous leadership.

Niagara Movement Founders, 1905. Top row (left to right): H. A. Thompson, Alonzo F. Herndon, John Hope, James R. L. Diggs (?). Second row (left to right): Frederick McGhee, Norris B. Herndon (boy), J. Max Barber, W. E. B. Du Bois, Robert Bonner. Bottom row (left to right): Henry L. Bailey, Clement G. Morgan, W. H. H. Hart, B. S. Smith. Reproduction. Detail. Courtesy of the W.E.B Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts .

The organization they formed, the Niagara Movement, met annually until 1910. It was one of the organizations that paved the way for the formation of the NAACP.

Related Resources

W. E. B. Du Bois to Coretta Scott King: The Untold History of the Movement to Ban the Bomb

Article. By Vincent Intondi. If We Knew Our History Series.
Intondi states: “African American leaders have long been concerned with broad issues of peace and justice — and have especially opposed nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, this activism is left out of mainstream corporate-produced history textbooks.”

Aug. 14, 1908: Springfield Massacre

Springfield Massacre was committed against African Americans by a mob of about 5,000 white people in Springfield, Illinois.

Feb. 13, 1937: Founding of Southern Negro Youth Congress

The first Southern Negro Youth Conference (SNYC) conference was held in Richmond, Virginia.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Du Bois, W.E.B. 1903. The Souls of Black Folk, Chicago: A. C. McClurg.

_____. 1968. The Autobiography of W. E. Burghardt DuBois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century, New York: International Publishers.

Franklin, John H., and Alfred A. Moss Jr. 2000. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, 8th ed. New York: McGraw Hill.

Harlan, Louis. 1972. Booker T. Washington, the Making of a Black Leader, 1856-1901. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kellogg, Charles F. 1967. NAACP: A History of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lewis, David Levering, 1993. W.E.B. DuBois: Biography of a Race. New York: Henry Holt.

Medley, Keith W. 2003. We as Freemen: Plessy v. Ferguson. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing.


The Niagara Movement’s “Address to the Country”

William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois (1868–1963) was an African American sociologist, historian, progressive political reformer, and cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. A prolific author and tireless civil rights activist, Du Bois is often remembered for his seminal 1903 essay collection, The Souls of Black Folk, in which he argued that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.”

After the Civil War, many states enforced racial segregation in transportation, accommodations, and education. The period was also marked by the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans through poll taxes, literacy tests, and other requirements. This was especially true in the Jim Crow system of the southern states, where such laws endured until the 1960s. Du Bois protested against these policies while at the same time drawing national attention to the lynching of African Americans in the South.

In 1905, Du Bois and twenty-nine other African American political activists met near Niagara Falls to form the Niagara movement, a predecessor to the NAACP. The Niagara movement was a civil rights organization that opposed the politics of black accommodation and compromise advocated by, among others, Booker T. Washington. In the following address, Du Bois explains the ends and means of the Niagara movement, briefly detailing the organization’s opposition to racial discrimination and disenfranchisement. This “Address to the Country” was part of the movement’s second annual conference, held in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, the site of abolitionist John Brown’s ill-fated raid on a federal armory.

Source: W. E. B. Du Bois, “Address to the Country,” speech at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (August 19, 1906), The Broad Ax 11, no. 44, (August 25, 1906): 1, available online at the Library of Congress: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84024055/1906-08-25/ed-1/seq-1.pdf.

The men of the Niagara Movement coming from the toil of the year’s hard work and pausing a moment from the earning of their daily bread turn toward the nation and again ask in the name of ten million the privilege of a hearing. [1] In the past year the work of the Negro hater has flourished in the land. Step by step the defenders of the rights of American citizens have retreated. The work of stealing the black man’s ballot has progressed and the fifty and more representatives of stolen votes still sit in the nation’s capital. Discrimination in travel and public accommodation has so spread that some of our weaker brethren are actually afraid to thunder against color discrimination as such and are simply whispering for ordinary decencies.

Against this the Niagara Movement eternally protests. We will not be satisfied to take one jot or tittle less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil, and social and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans. It is a fight for ideals, lest this, our common fatherland, false to its founding, become in truth the land of the thief and the home of the Slave—a byword and a hissing among the nations for its sounding pretensions and pitiful accomplishment. Never before in the modern age has a great and civilized folk threatened to adopt so cowardly a creed in the treatment of its fellow citizens born and bred on its soil. Stripped of verbiage and subterfuge and in its naked nastiness the new American creed says: Fear to let black men even try to rise lest they become the equals of the white. And this is the land that professes to follow Jesus Christ. The blasphemy of such a course is only matched by its cowardice.

In detail our demands are clear and unequivocal. First, we would vote with the right to vote goes everything: Freedom, manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters, the right to work, and the chance to rise, and let no man listen to those who deny this.

We want full manhood suffrage, and we want it now, henceforth, and forever.

Second. We want discrimination in public accommodation to cease. Separation in railway and street cars, based simply on race and color, is un-American, un-democratic, and silly. We protest against all such discrimination.

Third. We claim the right of freemen to walk, talk, and be with them that wish to be with us. No man has a right to choose another man’s friends, and to attempt to do so is an impudent interference with the most fundamental human privilege.

Fourth. We want the laws enforced against rich as well as poor against capitalist as well as laborer against white as well as black. We are not more lawless than the white race, we are more often arrested, convicted, and mobbed. We want justice even for criminals and outlaws. We want the Constitution of the country enforced. We want Congress to take charge of congressional elections. We want the Fourteenth Amendment carried out to the letter and every state disfranchised in Congress which attempts to disfranchise its rightful voters. We want the Fifteenth Amendment enforced and no state allowed to base its franchise simply on color.

The failure of the Republican Party in Congress at the session just closed to redeem its pledge of 1904 with reference to suffrage conditions at the South seems a plain, deliberate, and premeditated breach of promise, and stamps that party as guilty of obtaining votes under false pretense. [2]

Fifth. We want our children educated. The school system in the country districts of the South is a disgrace and in few towns and cities are Negro schools what they ought to be. We want the national government to step in and wipe out illiteracy in the South. Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.

And when we call for education we mean real education. We believe in work. We ourselves are workers, but work is not necessarily education. Education is the development of power and ideal. We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be, and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people. They have a right to know, to think, to aspire.

These are some of the chief things which we want. How shall we get them? By voting where we may vote, by persistent, unceasing agitation by hammering at the truth, by sacrifice and work.

We do not believe in violence, neither in the despised violence of the raid nor the lauded violence of the soldier, nor the barbarous violence of the mob, but we do believe in John Brown, in that incarnate spirit of justice, that hatred of a lie, that willingness to sacrifice money, reputation, and life itself on the altar of right. And here on the scene of John Brown’s martyrdom we reconsecrate ourselves, our honor, our property to the final emancipation of the race which John Brown died to make free.

Our enemies, triumphant for the present, are fighting the stars in their courses. Justice and humanity must prevail. We live to tell these dark brothers of ours—scattered in counsel, wavering, and weak—that no bribe of money or notoriety, no promise of wealth or fame, is worth the surrender of a people’s manhood or the loss of a man’s self-respect. We refuse to surrender the leadership of this race to cowards and trucklers. We are men we will be treated as men. On this rock we have planted our banners. We will never give up, though the trump of doom finds us still fighting.

And we shall win. The past promised it the present foretells it. Thank God for John Brown! Thank God for Garrison and Douglass! Sumner and Phillips, Nat Turner and Robert Gould Shaw, and all the hallowed dead who died for freedom! [3] Thank God for all those today, few though their voices be, who have not forgotten the divine brotherhood of all men white and black, rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate.

We appeal to the young men and women of this nation, to those whose nostrils are not yet befouled by greed and snobbery and racial narrowness: Stand up for the right, prove yourselves worthy of your heritage and whether born north or south dare to treat men as men. Cannot the nation that has absorbed ten million foreigners into its political life without catastrophe absorb ten million Negro Americans into that same political life at less cost than their unjust and illegal exclusion will involve?

Courage, brothers! The battle for humanity is not lost or losing. All across the skies sit signs of promise. The Slave is raising in his might, the yellow millions are tasting liberty, the black Africans are writhing toward the light, and everywhere the laborer, with ballot in his hand, is voting open the gates of Opportunity and Peace. The morning breaks over bloodstained hills. We must not falter, we may not shrink. Above are the everlasting stars.


Niagara Movement (1905-1909)

The Niagara Movement was a civil rights group organized by W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter in 1905. After being denied admittance to hotels in Buffalo, New York, the group of 29 business owners, teachers, and clergy who comprised the initial meeting gathered at Niagara Falls, from which the group’s name derives.

The principles behind the Niagara Movement were largely in opposition to Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of Accommodationism. Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian, had publicly reprimanded Washington at a Boston meeting in 1903. In “The Souls of Black Folk,” DuBois had also condemned Washington for his lowered expectations for African Americans. The Niagara Movement drafted a “Declaration of Principles,” part of which stated: “We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults.”

The Niagara Movement attempted to bring about legal change, addressing the issues of crime, economics, religion, health, and education. The Movement stood apart from other black organizations at the time because of its powerful, unequivocal demand for equal rights. The Niagara Movement forcefully demanded equal economic and educational opportunity as well as the vote for black men and women. Members of the Niagara movement sent a powerful message to the entire country through their condemnation of racial discrimination and their call for an end to segregation.


Niagara Movement Speech

The men of the Niagara Movement coming from the toil of the year’s hard work and pausing a moment from the earning of their daily bread turn toward the nation and again ask in the name of ten million the privilege of a hearing. In the past year the work of the Negro hater has flourished in the land. Step by step the defenders of the rights of American citizens have retreated. The work of stealing the black man’s ballot has progressed and the fifty and more representatives of stolen votes still sit in the nation’s capital. Discrimination in travel and public accommodation has so spread that some of our weaker brethren are actually afraid to thunder against color discrimination as such and are simply whispering for ordinary decencies.

Against this the Niagara Movement eternally protests. We will not be satisfied to take one jot or tittle less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans. It is a fight for ideals, lest this, our common fatherland, false to its founding, become in truth the land of the thief and the home of the Slave–a by-word and a hissing among the nations for its sounding pretensions and pitiful accomplishment. Never before in the modern age has a great and civilized folk threatened to adopt so cowardly a creed in the treatment of its fellow-citizens born and bred on its soil. Stripped of verbiage and subterfuge and in its naked nastiness the new American creed says: Fear to let black men even try to rise lest they become the equals of the white. And this is the land that professes to follow Jesus Christ. The blasphemy of such a course is only matched by its cowardice.

In detail our demands are clear and unequivocal. First, we would vote with the right to vote goes everything: Freedom, manhood, the honor of your wives, the chastity of your daughters, the right to work, and the chance to rise, and let no man listen to those who deny this.

We want full manhood suffrage, and we want it now, henceforth and forever.

Second. We want discrimination in public accommodation to cease. Separation in railway and street cars, based simply on race and color, is un-American, un-democratic, and silly. We protest against all such discrimination.

Third. We claim the right of freemen to walk, talk, and be with them that wish to be with us. No man has a right to choose another man’s friends, and to attempt to do so is an impudent interference with the most fundamental human privilege.

Fourth. We want the laws enforced against rich as well as poor against Capitalist as well as Laborer against white as well as black. We are not more lawless than the white race, we are more often arrested, convicted, and mobbed. We want justice even for criminals and outlaws. We want the Constitution of the country enforced. We want Congress to take charge of Congressional elections. We want the Fourteenth amendment carried out to the letter and every State disfranchised in Congress which attempts to disfranchise its rightful voters. We want the Fifteenth amendment enforced and No State allowed to base its franchise simply on color.

The failure of the Republican Party in Congress at the session just closed to redeem its pledge of 1904 with reference to suffrage conditions at the South seems a plain, deliberate, and premeditated breach of promise, and stamps that party as guilty of obtaining votes under false pretense.

Fifth, We want our children educated. The school system in the country districts of the South is a disgrace and in few towns and cities are Negro schools what they ought to be. We want the national government to step in and wipe out illiteracy in the South. Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.

And when we call for education we mean real education. We believe in work. We ourselves are workers, but work is not necessarily education. Education is the development of power and ideal. We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be, and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people. They have a right to know, to think, to aspire.

These are some of the chief things which we want. How shall we get them? By voting where we may vote, by persistent, unceasing agitation by hammering at the truth, by sacrifice and work.

We do not believe in violence, neither in the despised violence of the raid nor the lauded violence of the soldier, nor the barbarous violence of the mob, but we do believe in John Brown, in that incarnate spirit of justice, that hatred of a lie, that willingness to sacrifice money, reputation, and life itself on the altar of right. And here on the scene of John Brown’s martyrdom we reconsecrate ourselves, our honor, our property to the final emancipation of the race which John Brown died to make free.

Our enemies, triumphant for the present, are fighting the stars in their courses. Justice and humanity must prevail. We live to tell these dark brothers of ours–scattered in counsel, wavering and weak–that no bribe of money or notoriety, no promise of wealth or fame, is worth the surrender of a people’s manhood or the loss of a man’s self-respect. We refuse to surrender the leadership of this race to cowards and trucklers. We are men we will be treated as men. On this rock we have planted our banners. We will never give up, though the trump of doom finds us still fighting.

And we shall win. The past promised it, the present foretells it. Thank God for John Brown! Thank God for Garrison and Douglass! Sumner and Phillips, Nat Turner and Robert Gould Shaw, and all the hallowed dead who died for freedom! Thank God for all those to-day, few though their voices be, who have not forgotten the divine brotherhood of all men white and black, rich and poor, fortunate and unfortunate.

We appeal to the young men and women of this nation, to those whose nostrils are not yet befouled by greed and snobbery and racial narrowness: Stand up for the right, prove yourselves worthy of your heritage and whether born north or south dare to treat men as men. Cannot the nation that has absorbed ten million foreigners into its political life without catastrophe absorb ten million Negro Americans into that same political life at less cost than their unjust and illegal exclusion will involve?

Courage brothers! The battle for humanity is not lost or losing. All across the skies sit signs of promise. The Slav is raising in his might, the yellow millions are tasting liberty, the black Africans are writhing toward the light, and everywhere the laborer, with ballot in his hand, is voting open the gates of Opportunity and Peace. The morning breaks over blood-stained hills. We must not falter, we may not shrink. Above are the everlasting stars.


Competing titans with sympathetic intentions

A dozen years Du Bois’s senior, Booker T. Washington was arguably the dominant figure if not voice of America’s African-American community. At the turn of the 20th century, ninety percent of African-Americans lived in the South, three-quarters of these in rural settings. Washington, among the last generation born into slavery, was intimately aware of the issues facing southern African-Americans. His background almost certainly shaped his views when he founded Tuskeegee University in 1881, (largely by his own force of will).

In 1895, Washington was asked to speak at the Cotton States and International Exposition, held in Atlanta, Georgia. To a mostly white audience, Washington outlined his vision of racial equality without committing the unpardonable faux pas of mentioning by name that end. His address spelled out a South in which African-Americans continue to bear the humiliating conditions of Jim Crow, all the while improving themselves in the technical skills of the day. His views of what the U.S. Supreme Court would describe a year later as a separate but equal society was widely applauded by Southern whites, still resentful for the injuries they perceived as having suffered during Reconstruction. To a large degree, Washington believed that Reconstruction was a failure for seeking too much too soon for African-Americans.

In the North, however, African-American intellectuals were aghast at the very idea that American citizens of color accept second-class status in favor of the prejudice culture that truly had meted out real injuries for nearly 300 years. Chief among Washinton’s critics was W.E.B. DuBois who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard the same year in which the Atlanta Exposition speech was given.

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois was born in Massachusetts only three years after passage of the 13th Amendment. He grew up without the presence of his father and his mother died during his late teens. Though not affluent, Du Bois was recognized by others for his intellect and received support for his first undergraduate degree which he earned at Tennessee’s Fisk University.

W.E.B. Du Bois traveled to Berlin for continued studies, earning his second bachelor’s degree, this time from Harvard University. He also traveled to the Deep South where he experienced Jim Crow firsthand. Still, his experiences were those of an academic which may explain some of his views that were antithetical to those of Booker T. Washington.


The Niagara Movement

At the dawn of the twentieth century, the outlook for full civil rights for African Americans was at a precarious crossroads. Failed Reconstruction, the Supreme Court's separate but equal doctrine (Plessy v. Ferguson), coupled with Booker T. Washington's accommodationist policies threatened to compromise any hope for full and equal rights under the law.

Harvard educated William Edward Burghardt Du Bois committed himself to a bolder course, moving well beyond the calculated appeal for limited civil rights. He acted in 1905 by drafting a "Call" to a few select people. The Call had two purposes "organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believed in Negro freedom and growth," and opposition to "present methods of strangling honest criticism."

Du Bois gathered a group of men representing every region of the country except the West. They hoped to meet in Buffalo, New York. When refused accommodation, the members migrated across the border to Canada. Twenty-nine men met at the Erie Beach Hotel in Ontario. The Niagarites adopted a constitution and by-laws, established committees and wrote the "Declaration of Principles" outlining the future for African Americans. After three days, they returned across the border with a renewed sense of resolve in the struggle for freedom and equality.

Thirteen months later, from August 15 - 19, 1906, the Niagara Movement held its first public meeting in the United States on the campus of Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Harpers Ferry was symbolic for a number of reasons. First and foremost was the connection to John Brown. It was at Harpers Ferry in 1859 that Brown's raid against slavery struck a blow for freedom. Many felt it was John Brown who fired the first shot of the Civil War. By the latter part of the nineteenth century, John Brown's Fort had become a shrine and a symbol of freedom to African Americans, Union soldiers and the nation's Abolitionists. Harpers Ferry was also the home of Storer College. Freewill Baptists opened Storer in 1867 as a mission school to educate former slaves. For twenty-five years Storer was the only school in West Virginia that offered African Americans an education beyond the primary level.

The Niagarites arrived in Harpers Ferry with passion in their hearts and high hopes that their voices would be heard and action would result. They were now more than fifty strong. Women also attended this historic gathering where, on August 17, 1906, they were granted full and equal membership to the organization.

The week was filled with many inspirational speeches, meetings, special addresses and commemorative ceremonies. Max Barber, editor of The Voice of the Negro said, "A more suitable place for the meeting of the Niagara Movement than Harpers Ferry would have been hard to find. I must confess that I had never yet felt as I felt in Harpers Ferry."

A highlight for those gathered was John Brown's Day. It was a day devoted to honoring the memory of John Brown. At 6:00 a.m. a silent pilgrimage began to John Brown's Fort. The members removed their shoes and socks as they tread upon the "hallowed ground" where the fort stood. The assemblage then marched single-file around the fort singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "John Brown's Body."

The inspirational morning was followed by an equally stirring afternoon. The Niagarites listened to Henrietta Leary Evans whose brother and nephew fought along side Brown at Harpers Ferry, then Lewis Douglass, son of Frederick Douglass, and finally Reverdy C. Ransom, pastor of the Charles Street African Methodist Episcopal Church in Boston. Ransom's speech on John Brown was described as a "masterpiece." The late black scholar, Dr. Benjamin Quarles, called the address, "…the most stirring single episode in the life of the Niagara Movement."

The conference concluded on Sunday, August 19th, with the reading of "An Address to the Country," penned by W.E.B. Du Bois. "We will not be satisfied to take one jot or tittle less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American, political, civil and social and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans."

The Niagara Movement laid the cornerstone of the modern civil rights era. A new movement found a voice. The organization continued until 1911, when almost all of its members became the backbone of the newly formed National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). There, the men and women of the Niagara Movement recommitted themselves to the ongoing call for justice and the struggle for equality.

With thunderous applause, the Harpers Ferry conference drew to a close. Years later recalling this conference, Du Bois referred to it as "…one of the greatest meetings that American Negroes ever held."


Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles

Summary of the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles
Summary: The famous Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles reflects the sentiments of a group of African American intellectuals and professionals regarding the oppression of their civil rights together with grievances and complaints regarding the denial of equal opportunities in the economy, school education and housing, discrimination based on race or color and protests against Jim Crow segregation policies.

Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles for kids
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th American President who served in office from September 14, 1901 to March 4, 1909. One of the important events during his presidency was the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles by Civil Rights activist, W. E. B. Du Bois.

Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles Facts for kids: Fast Fact Sheet
Fast, fun facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles.

Who wrote the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles? The Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles were primarily the work of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter

When were the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles written? The Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles were drafted during the week of July 9, 1905 at the inaugural meeting of the Niagara Movement.

What the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles? The Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles addressed the issues of equal rights and racial discrimination in relation to economic opportunity, education, the courts, health, employers and Labor Unions, housing and protested against the treatment of WW1 soldiers and Jim Crow policies.

Text of the Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles

Niagara Movement Declaration of Principles

Delivered at the first conference of the Niagara Movement
at Niagara Falls during the week of July 9, 1905

The Progress: The members of the conference, known as the Niagara Movement, assembled in annual meeting at Buffalo, July 11th, 1905, congratulate the Negro-Americans on certain undoubted evidences of progress in the last decade, particularly the increase of intelligence, the buying of property, the checking of crime, the uplift in home life, the advance in literature and art, and the demonstration of constructive and executive ability in the conduct of great religious, economic, and educational institutions.

Suffrage: At the same time, we believe that this class of American citizens should protest emphatically and continually against the curtailment of their political rights. We believe in manhood suffrage we believe that no man is so good, intelligent or wealthy as to be entrusted wholly with the welfare of his neighbor.

Civil Liberty: We believe also in protest against the curtailment of our civil rights. All American citizens have the right to equal treatment in places of public entertainment according to their behavior and deserts.

Economic Opportunity: We especially complain against the denial of equal opportunities to us in economic life in the rural districts of the South this amounts to peonage and virtual slavery all over the South it tends to crush labor and small business enterprises and everywhere American prejudice, helped often by iniquitous laws, is making it more difficult for Negro-Americans to earn a decent living.

Education: Common school education should be free to all American children and compulsory. High school training should be adequately provided for all, and college training should be the monopoly of no class or race in any section of our common country. We believe that, in defense of our own institutions, the United States should aid common school education, particularly in the South, and we especially recommend concerted agitation to this end. We urge an increase in public high school facilities in the South, where the Negro-Americans are almost wholly without such provisions. We favor well-equipped trade and technical schools for the training of artisans, and the need of adequate and liberal endowment for a few institutions of higher education must be patent to sincere well-wishers of the race.

Courts: We demand upright judges in courts, juries selected without discrimination on account of color and the same measure of punishment and the same efforts at reformation for black as for white offenders. We need orphanages and farm schools for dependent children, juvenile reformatories for delinquents, and the abolition of the dehumanizing convict-lease system.

Public Opinion: We note with alarm the evident retrogression in this and of land of sound public opinion on the subject of manhood rights, republican government and human brotherhood, and we pray God that this nation will not degenerate into a mob of boasters and oppressors, but rather will return to the faith of the fathers, that all men were created free and equal, with certain unalienable rights.

Health: We plead for health - for an opportunity to live in decent houses and localities, for a chance to rear our children in physical and moral cleanliness.

Employers and Labor Unions: We hold up for public execration the conduct of tow opposite classes of men: The practice among employers of importing ignorant Negro-Americans laborers in emergencies, and then affording them neither protection nor permanent employment, and the practice of labor unions in proscribing and boycotting and oppressing thousands of their fellow-toilers, simply because they are black. These methods have accentuated and will accentuate the war of labor and capital, and they are disgraceful to both sides.

Protest: We refuse to allow the impression to remain that the Negro-American assents to inferiority, is submissive under oppression and apologetic before insults. Through helplessness we may submit, but the voice of protest of ten million Americans must never cease to assail the ears of their follows, so long as America is unjust.

Color-Line: Any discrimination based simply on race or color is barbarous, we care not how hallowed it be by custom expediency or prejudice. Differences made on account of ignorance, immorality, or disease are legitimate methods of fighting evil, and against them we have no word of protest, but discriminations based simply and solely on physical peculiarities, place of birth, color of skin, are relics of that unreasoning human savagery of which the world is and ought to be thoroughly ashamed.

"Jim Crow" Cars: We protest against the "Jim Crow" car, since its effect is and must be to make us pay first-class fare for third-class accommodations, render us open to insults and discomfort and to crucify wantonly our womanhood and self-respect.

Soldiers: We regret that his nation has never seen fit adequately to reward the black soldiers who, in its five wars, have defended their county with their blood, and yet have been systematically denied the promotions which their abilities deserve. And we regard as unjust, the exclusion of black boys from the military and naval training schools.

War Amendments: We urge upon Congress the enactment of appropriate legislation for securing the proper enforcement of those articles of freedom, the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth amendments of the Constitution of the United States.

Oppression: We repudiate the monstrous doctrine that the oppressor should be the sole authority as to the rights of the oppressed. The Negro race in America stolen, ravished and degraded, struggling up through difficulties and oppression, needs sympathy and receives criticism: needs help and is given hindrance, needs protection and is given mob-violence, needs justice and is given charity, needs leadership and is given cowardice and apology, needs bread and is given a stone. This nation will never stand justified before God until these things are changed.

The Church: Especially are we surprised and astonished at the recent attitude of the church of Christ - of an increase of a desire to bow to racial prejudice, to narrow the bounds of human brotherhood, and to segregate black men to some outer sanctuary. This is wrong, unchristian and disgraceful to the twentieth century civilization.

Agitation: Of the above grievance we do not hesitate to complain, and to complain loudly and insistently. To ignore, overlook, or apologize for these wrongs is to prove ourselves unworthy of freedom. Persistent manly agitation is the way to liberty, and toward this goal the Niagara Movement has started and asks the cooperation of all men of all races.

Help: At the same time we want to acknowledge with deep thankfulness the help of our fellowmen from the Abolitionists down to those who today still stand for equal opportunity and who have given and still give of their wealth and of their poverty for our advancement.

Duties: And while we are demanding and ought to demand, and will continue to demand the rights enumerated above, God forbid that we should ever forget to urge corresponding duties upon our people:
1.The duty to vote.
2.The duty to respect the rights of others.
3.The duty to work.
4.The duty to obey the laws.
5.The duty to be clean and orderly.
6.The duty to send our children to school.
7.The duty to respect ourselves, even as we respect others.

This statement, complaint and prayer we submit to the American people, and Almighty God.

T he Niagara Movement: African American History
For visitors interested in the history of African Americans refer to the following articles:


Little Known Black History Fact: Niagara Movement

W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter formed the Niagara Movement on July 11, 1905 in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. The group’s aim was to counter the accommodationism policies of Booker T. Washington, and was viewed as a radical Black civil rights group in comparison.

The Niagara Movement was initially a group of 29 teachers, clergymen, activists and business owners, all who suffered racism in Buffalo, New York. The Movement drafted its first “Declaration of Principles,” dedicated to addressing key issues of equal rights, voting, calling for the end to segregation and economic equality. Du Bois opened up the group to include women, which Trotter openly opposed. He left the Movement in 1908 to form a similar, men-only group.

Members of the movement met annually until 1908. In August of that year, a major race riot broke out in Springfield, Illinois, leading to the death of eight Black people and the displacement of around 2,000 Black residents. Black and white activists decided then that a larger, interracial organization should be formed to address the issues that the Movement fought for. The following year, the NAACP was formed in New York, composed of some of the Niagara Movement’s founding members.


Watch the video: The Niagara Movement u0026 The Fight For Civil Rights In America. History Matters (July 2022).


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