“We know our rights and have the courage to defend them”: The spirit of agitation in the age of accommodation, 1883–1909

2004 2004

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Abstract (summary)

The period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is one of the darkest epochs in American race relations. During the ‘nadir,’ African Americans responded to their conditions in numerous ways, including among others the promotion of self-help, racial solidarity, economic nationalism, political agitation, and emigration. This dissertation focuses on the various organizational responses of African Americans to the rise of racial segregation and violence, from the 1880s through the first decade of the twentieth century. In particular it examines the activities of the Afro-American League, the National Afro-American Council, the Constitution League, the Committee of Twelve and the Niagara Movement, demonstrating how these organizations' platforms and activities foreshadowed the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

Shifting attention away from the leadership role of W. E. B. Du Bois and his involvement in the Niagara Movement, a secondary aim of this dissertation is to highlight the roles of intellectuals and activists such as T. Thomas Fortune, Bishop Alexander Walters, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Church Terrell, Jesse Lawson, Lewis G. Jordan, Kelly Miller, Archibald Grimké, Booker T. Washington and John E. Milholland. The dissertation explores the way in which their participation in the organizations mentioned above contribute to the foundation of the NAACP. The ideas and the activities of the Afro-American League and the National Afro-American Council antedated those of the Niagara Movement, and much of the leadership of the aforementioned groups brought their experiences together to create the NAACP.

Indexing (details)

Black history;
American history;
African Americans;
Minority & ethnic groups;
0328: Black history
0337: American history
0325: African Americans
0631: Minority & ethnic groups
0631: Sociology
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; Afro-American League; Committee of Twelve; Constitution League; National Afro-American Council; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Niagara Movement
“We know our rights and have the courage to defend them”: The spirit of agitation in the age of accommodation, 1883–1909
Alexander, Shawn Leigh
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 65/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780496132027, 0496132024
Allen, Ernest, Jr.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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