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 Greenidge received her Doctorate in American Studies from Boston University, where her specialty included African-American history, American political history, and African-American and African diasporic literature in the post-emancipation and early modern era. Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright 2019) is the first biography of Boston Guardian editor and post-bellum / pre-Harlem activist, William Monroe Trotter, in over forty five years. Black Radical explores the history of racial thought and African American political radicalism in New England at the turn of the century. She is currently co-director of the African American Trail Project through Tufts’ Center for the Study of Race and Democracy (CSRD). She also serves as interim director of the American Studies Program through Tufts’ Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora. Her scholarship explores the role of African-American literature in the creation of radical Black political consciousness, particularly as it relates to the African diaspora during the early twentieth century, African American elections in the urban north, and Democratic populism during the Progressive Era. She has taught at Boston University, the University of Massachusetts, and Tufts University. Her work includes historical research for the Wiley-Blackwell Anthology of African-American Literature, the Oxford African American Studies Center, and PBS.
Certain books were “banned in Boston” at least as far back as 1651, when one William Pynchon wrote a book criticizing Puritanism.