Trotter and The Guardian Newspaper



I’M glad the Boston Globe published my Letter To The Editor, today. But, I’m sorry they chose to delete the paragraph with a bit of Trotter bio, although printing other letters of equal original length. Here’s the full text:

“It would be a demonstration of his professionalism for David Jacobs to re-name his newly launched neighborhood newspaper, The Boston Guardian. (“Publisher criticized for using name of historic African-American paper,” April 26).

William Monroe Trotter’s Boston newspaper, The Guardian, published from 1901 until the 1950s, stands as a major landmark in the history of African-American journalism. It was a civic, political, and cultural force in Boston, throughout New England, and nationally. 

Trotter, a Phi Beta Kappa Harvard graduate and member of the Niagara Movement, the forerunner to the NAACP, was both an intellectual and an activist. Locally, to give just one example, he led the protest against the Boston showing of the viciously racist 1915 film, Birth of A Nation. He was arrested in a scuffle when he and ten other protestors refused to leave the lobby of the Tremont Theater.

Nationally, Trotter and his newspaper fought against racism on many fronts, from lobbying for anti-lynching bills in Congress to powerful reporting on the 1931 trials of The Scottsboro Boys. 

Invited to the White House to discuss President Wilson’s segregationist policies, Trotter argued his case so forcefully that Wilson took offense and asked him to leave.

Knowing what he does now about his paper’s name, it’s bizarre and unbecoming for Mr. Jacobs to persist with a Guardian published for the wealthy Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Let us hope that his regard for history, and a thoughtful recognition of Boston’s complex racial dynamics, past and present, will lead him to re-think his “Heck no” response to changing the name of his paper.”


W. E. B. Du Bois attests to the influence and effectiveness of the Boston Guardian. In reference to W. M. Trotter’s opposition to B. T. Washington, he wrote:

This opposition began to become vocal in 1901 when two men, Monroe Trotter, Harvard 1895, and George Forbes, Amherst 1895, began the publication of the Boston Guardian. The Guardian was bitter, satirical, and personal; but it was earnest, and it published facts. It attracted wide attention among colored people; it circulated among them all over the country; it was quoted and discussed. I did not wholly agree with the Guardian, and indeed only a few Negroes did, but nearly all read it and were influenced by it.

Trotter’s wife, the former Geraldine Pindell, was equally committed to the paper and its ideals. She died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.



One response to “Trotter and The Guardian Newspaper

  1. Glad to see this in the Globe, and even gladder to have the full text — thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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