Niagara Movement Facts

Niagara Movement Facts
The Niagara Movement was a black civil rights movement founded in 1905 in Fort Erie, Ontario, near the banks of Niagara Falls. The organization adopted the falls as their symbol because they believed it was indicative of the powerful and torrential change they envisioned taking place in American society pertaining to race. The Niagara Movement formed at a time when the United States was at a crossroads in many was regarding race relations - Reconstruction had ended about twenty-five years prior and Jim Crow became the law of the land leaving most black Americans with limited choices. Some black leaders, such as Booker T. Washington, advocated a policy known as "appeasement," whereby blacks would defer to whites in the areas of politics and law, but work to build their own businesses, especially in the agricultural and technical fields. Other black leaders believed that they should challenge the system's segregation laws and enter politics and the government when possible. This view was supported by the men who formed the Niagara Movement.
Interesting Niagara Movement Facts:
Notable civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois and William Monroe Trotter were the group's two primary leaders and organizers.
The premiere black American civil rights organization before the Niagara Movement was the National Afro-American Council. Although Du Bois was a member of the organization for two years, he disagreed with what he saw as Booker's conservative approach to race relations and his influence over the organization so he left to form the Niagara Movement.
The "Declaration of Principles," which was essentially the group's mission statement, was written by Du Bois and Trotter
The Declaration of Principles was quite radical for the era, as it called for suffrage of all black Americans, taxpayer funded education, and criminal justice reform.
As much as Du Bois and the Niagara Movement opposed Booker T. Washington and his ideas, Washington and his supporters were equally opposed to the Niagara Movement. It is believed that Washington and his supporters conspired to suppress news of the Niagara Movement in the national African-American press.
At the height of its short existence, the Niagara Movement had chapters in twenty-one states.
The Niagara Movement began allowing women to join in 1906. Du Bois supported the idea from the beginning but Trotter had to be persuaded.
The Niagara Movement dissolved due to politics. Du Bois supported Democrat candidate William Jennings Bryant in the 1908 presidential election, but the rank and file of the organization, like most black Americans at the time, supported Republican William Taft, who won the election.
After the Niagara Movement, Du Bois became more involved with socialism and even communism, as he believed that those systems would be the only way to end discrimination.
Du Bois was appointed as director of publication for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1911. He tried to get the remaining members of the Niagara Movement to join the NAACP.
The Niagara Movement's final meeting was in 1909.


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