The Niagara Movement

The second meeting of the Niagara Movement was held August 15-19, 1906 at Storer College in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The meeting was attended by J.R. Clifford, as well as other African American luminaries of the era, including W.E.B. Dubois.

The Niagara Movement was founded by Dubois and named for the location of its first meeting – near Niagara Falls in Ontario. The movement was Dubois reaction to the slow rate of progress being made on civil rights in the early 1900s. He called for “organized determination and aggressive action on the part of men who believe in Negro freedom and growth”.

While some prominent African Americans like Booker T. Washington preached political accommodation, advancing the cause of equality in a way that didn’t upset white people, attendees at the Niagara Movement meeting wanted total equality, with no concessions based on race or gender. Women attending the meeting were granted full and equal membership in the movement. Speeches, meetings, and special programs took place throughout the week, culminating with a resolution from the members.

We want full suffrage, now, henceforth and forever.

We want discrimination in public accommodations to cease. Separation is un-American, undemocratic and silly.

We claim the right of freemen to walk, talk, and be with them who wish to be with us.

We want the laws enforced equally…against white as well as black.

We want our children educated…Either the U.S. will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the U.S.

We will not be satisfied to take one jot or title less than our full rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a freeborn American – political, civil, and social; and until we get these rights, we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone, but for all true Americans.