In July 1905, a group of African American men met at Fort Erie, Ontario, a small town on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. They were led by Atlanta University professor W.E.B. Dubois and Boston newspaper editor and businessman William Monroe Trotter. Fed up with the segregation, disenfranchisement and economic disadvantages experienced by black Americans, and disagreeing with the conciliatory policies of Booker T. Washington's Atlanta Compromise, which had dominated U.S. race relations over the preceeding decade, the men who met at Niagara Falls sought full political, civil and social rights for black Americans.
Out of this meeting grew the Niagara Movement, whose Declaration of Principles included the following:
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.To view primary source documents related to the Niagara Movement, visit the Niagara Movement archive, online at the University of Massachussetts Special Collections & University Archives.
The Niagara Movement never gained mass support and struggled with organizational and financial weaknesses, folding by 1910; however, it was an important predecessor organization to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which would go on to become the leading African-American civil rights organization of the twentieth century.