Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

Liveright: Norton. Nov. 2019. 432p. notes. index. ISBN 9781631495342. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781631495359. BIOG
William Monroe Trotter (1872–1934) was an uncompromising, Harvard-educated, black radical, who founded, edited, and published the weekly Boston Guardian from 1901 till his death, explains Greenidge (director, Ctr. for the Study of Race and Democracy, Tufts Univ.). Trotter spurned accommodationism and conservatism, battling for political independence to achieve racial uplift, which he viewed as abolition’s legacy. He strove to create the greatest African American newspaper in the nation, making it a fixture in Boston politics and America’s cultural landscape. Greenidge situates the protest leader and agitator in time and place, showing his unflinching public outrage in advancing grassroots racial justice and full citizenship rights. Trotter stood as the central figure of radical black politics, demonstrates Greenidge, defiant in confronting white supremacy and critical of his fellow black leaders for their failure to advance their people’s cause.
VERDICT Greenidge’s meticulously documented, free-flowing narrative draws telling comparisons between the opening of the 20th and 21st centuries to reorient the career of black radicalism, showing how Trotter developed the art of public protest and civil disobedience. A must-read for both scholars and general readers interested in the civil rights movement.

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