The Niagara Movement was launched in July of 1905, and W.E.B DuBois gave many speeches about its purpose and goals. This one was delivered in September of 1905 and first published in “The Voice of the Negro.”
The Niagara Movement is made up of 54 professional Black men, all with common goals. It was officially created over July 11-13 in Buffalo, New York. DuBois credits F.L McGhee with the movement’s founding (although he is thought to be its true founder).
DuBois serves as the General Secretary of the Niagara Movement. They also have a treasurer, state secretaries, and specific committee secretaries. The membership in each state answers to its respective state secretary who runs the state branch of the organization. 18 states are currently represented in the movement.
To address why the Niagara Movement is needed, DuBois says that other movements have failed, and the general interests of African-Americans in the U.S. must be promoted. Its first goals are to start a New England Suffrage League and a Negro Business League. (Booker T. Washington later stated the Negro Business League, but the idea was Dubois’.)
To succeed where other African-American organizations failed, the Niagara Movement will keep its organization simple and its goals clear. The U.S. is too big and its population of ten million African Americans is too scattered and diverse to merit a huge, complicated, or overreaching organization. Furthermore, the goals need to be ones that all African-Americans can agree upon. With so many African-American opinions out there, it is essential that the Niagara Movement unite for commonly agreed upon reasons. The Niagara Movement also seeks to sway others to its cause.
The Niagara Constitution outlines the general principles members must agree upon. Black men deserve the right to free speech, criticism, and press. Full manhood will be achieved with the unhindered right to vote. It is necessary to abolish race as an indicator of a person’s class, and all men are brothers. Everyone deserves the best possible education, not just White children, and the dignity of work. All members will work toward achieving these goals.
Their goals are a reaction to current problems that are quickly worsening. They will not gain their true freedom until they act, and they must fight by making their voices heard. To achieve their goals, the members will assert their political rights as Americans by getting African-Americans to vote in an educated manner. They will create better employment opportunities, distribute health information, ally with labor unions, study Black history, circulate and create more and better publications, and curb inwardly-directed Black crime.
Although authoritative White publications recognize the justness of the Niagara Movement’s goals, they do not support the African-American fight to achieve them. This only serves to label justice as the property of White people. The Niagara Movement needs more good Black Men to join and support the furthering of African-American rights in the U.S.