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Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

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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 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.


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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 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.

46 review for Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Well researched and full of insight into early 20th-century America, Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter sketches the turbulent career of the titular militant Black journalist. Hailing from an elite family heavily involved in radical anti-racist politics, Trotter was the publisher of the Guardian, a Boston weekly with regional reach, and a leading member of activist groups such as the Niagara Movement. He used his sensational weekly, author Kerri Greenidge makes clear, to Well researched and full of insight into early 20th-century America, Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter sketches the turbulent career of the titular militant Black journalist. Hailing from an elite family heavily involved in radical anti-racist politics, Trotter was the publisher of the Guardian, a Boston weekly with regional reach, and a leading member of activist groups such as the Niagara Movement. He used his sensational weekly, author Kerri Greenidge makes clear, to popularize his political agenda, rallying Black people to mass action and calling upon them to exert their electoral power at a time when such methods were highly stigmatized. His uninhibited rage and defense of the working class stood in sharp contrast to Booker T. Washington's respectability politics as well as W. E. B. Du Bois's top-down approach to racial justice, though all three shared a patriarchal view of society. Greenidge draws a well-defined portrait of Trotter and seamlessly embeds social history into her account of his life. The biography lags at points, but offers an abundance of information about turn-of-the-century and interwar America.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Casey Cep

    Reviewed this remarkable biography of William Monroe Trotter for The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... Wonderful use of one life to illuminate a broader intellectual movement.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lalaa #ThisBlackGirlReads

    This is a well researched and impressive biography of activist and newspaperman William Monroe Trotter. Born in Boston he attended Harvard with dreams and aspirations of forging a new world where racial equality was prominent. Trotter’s views made him both influential as well as controversial. He spoke out against racial representation, politics and black civil rights. He began a career in real estate making him one of the wealthiest black men in New England. With his wealth, he launched the This is a well researched and impressive biography of activist and newspaperman William Monroe Trotter. Born in Boston he attended Harvard with dreams and aspirations of forging a new world where racial equality was prominent. Trotter’s views made him both influential as well as controversial. He spoke out against racial representation, politics and black civil rights. He began a career in real estate making him one of the wealthiest black men in New England. With his wealth, he launched the Guardian using it as a platform for his activism. The book does a great job of telling a story of a man that has been left untold for so long. This is an informative, and well-written biography that offers context on how this prominent figure helped shape civil rights activism.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Gabriele

    Very well written. A fascinating view of not only William Monroe Trotter but the time in which he lived. I grew up in Boston,so I was familiar with his name but didn't know much about him until I read the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jarad

    “Like most of her neighbors, McKane wanted “the white people [to] realize that no matter how good their intentions are they cannot think in black.”...” This quote, from Kerri K. Greendige’s Black Radical, stands out as a pithy summary of this remarkable book. Black Radical is a thorough explanation of the life and legacy of William Monroe Trotter. Trotter was the founder of The Guardian, a Black radicalist newspaper and went toe to toe with some of the country’s most powerful figures as he fought “Like most of her neighbors, McKane wanted “the white people [to] realize that no matter how good their intentions are they cannot think in black.”...” This quote, from Kerri K. Greendige’s Black Radical, stands out as a pithy summary of this remarkable book. Black Radical is a thorough explanation of the life and legacy of William Monroe Trotter. Trotter was the founder of The Guardian, a Black radicalist newspaper and went toe to toe with some of the country’s most powerful figures as he fought for the rights of Black people. Although he experienced privilege in his upbringing and a good portion of his adult life, this Harvard educated man emphatically challenged the policies and practices that oppressed all Black people, particularly the genteel poor. Less iconic, now, than Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, he went to battle with both, the former for his accommodationist ideals and the latter for his elitist principles. The book goes into great detail of all Trotter endured to simply ensure Black Americans had basic human rights. We clearly don’t know enough about this man in American history, as he is rarely brought up as one of the co-founders of the Niagara Movement (Du Bois is usually the recognizable co-founder). Greenidge also does a good job of not heaping effusive praise on Trotter. She delves into some of his faults, frailties, and idiosyncrasies. Ultimately, Trotter was a flawed human being who did all he could to leave a lasting legacy of social justice. What really stood out to me in this book was the role faith played in the Black Radical politics of Trotter and his colleagues. Trotter was devout Christian and many of his comrades in the movement were Black radical preachers and pastors. This stands out to me because we see a lot of Black clerics who take on the assimilationist mindsets articulated by the white evangelical church. But I’m reminded, historically, Black clergy have been just as adamant as any in the constant battle for civil rights. I recommend this book to get a view of history that oft times goes unrecognized.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tricia Sean

    I wanted to rate this book 5 stars so bad! I loved it and it was so needed. It honestly has altered some of my political outlooks because it speaks to modern racial politics in America. Trotter should none as unknown as he is and the answers for today may be found in yesterday. The authors repetitions and the short ended took away from an amazing volume that should be required black reading. It has some awesome research and gives a great picture of who Trotter was and his impact. To quote the in I wanted to rate this book 5 stars so bad! I loved it and it was so needed. It honestly has altered some of my political outlooks because it speaks to modern racial politics in America. Trotter should none as unknown as he is and the answers for today may be found in yesterday. The authors repetitions and the short ended took away from an amazing volume that should be required black reading. It has some awesome research and gives a great picture of who Trotter was and his impact. To quote the in the Acknowledgements from the author's grandfather sums it up best,... "If Trotter were alive, none of that would have happened."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Doris Raines

    NICE BOOK.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Olms

    Great book

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liveright Publishing

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kris

  12. 4 out of 5

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  13. 5 out of 5

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  14. 4 out of 5

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  15. 5 out of 5

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  16. 4 out of 5

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  17. 4 out of 5

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  18. 4 out of 5

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  19. 4 out of 5

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  20. 5 out of 5

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  21. 5 out of 5

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  22. 5 out of 5

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  24. 4 out of 5

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  25. 4 out of 5

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  26. 5 out of 5

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  27. 5 out of 5

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  28. 4 out of 5

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  30. 4 out of 5

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  31. 4 out of 5

    ***Book Lady ***

  32. 4 out of 5

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  33. 5 out of 5

    ☯~☽~•Patricia Mainard•~☾~☯

  34. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  35. 4 out of 5

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  36. 5 out of 5

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  37. 5 out of 5

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  38. 5 out of 5

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  39. 4 out of 5

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  40. 4 out of 5

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  41. 4 out of 5

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  42. 4 out of 5

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  43. 5 out of 5

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  44. 4 out of 5

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  45. 5 out of 5

    ROY Law

  46. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

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