Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

Winner • Mark Lynton History Prize
Winner • Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize (Massachusetts Historical Society)
Shortlisted • Cundill History Prize
New York TimesTimes Critics Top Books of the Year
Finalist • Massachusetts Book Awards

This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter’s essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes.

 

William Monroe Trotter (1872– 1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working- class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post- Reconstruction America. For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Synthesizing years of archival research, historian Kerri Greenidge renders the drama of turn- of- the- century America and reclaims Trotter as a seminal figure, whose prophetic, yet ultimately tragic, life offers a link between the vision of Frederick Douglass and black radicalism in the modern era.

Kerri K. Greenidge is Mellon Assistant Professor in the Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University, where she also directs the American studies program. She lives in Massachusetts.