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African-American Organizations of the Progressive Era

The National Association of Colored Women was established in July of 1896. African-American writer and suffragette  Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin believed that the best way to respond to racist and sexist attacks in the media was through social-political activism. Arguing that developing positive images of African-American womanhood was important to countering racist attacks, Ruffin said, Too long have we been silent under unjust and unholy charges; we cannot expect to have them removed until we disprove them through ourselves.

Working with women such as Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells, Frances Watkins Harper and Lugenia Burns Hope, Ruffin helped several African-American women’s clubs merge. These clubs included the National League of Colored Women and the National Federation of Afro-American Women. Their formation established the first African-American national organization. More »

 Booker T. Washington established the National Negro Business League in Boston in 1900 with the help of Andrew Carnegie.  The purpose of the organization was to “promote the commercial and financial development of the Negro.” Washington established the group because he believed that the key to ending racism in the United States was through economic development and for African-Americans to become upwardly mobile.

 In 1905, scholar and sociologist  W.E.B. Du Bois teamed up journalist William Monroe Trotter. The men brought together more than 50 African-American men who were in opposition to  Booker T. Washingtons philosophy of accommodation.  Both Du Bois and Trotter desired a more militant approach to fighting inequality.

The first meeting was held on the Canada side of Niagara Falls.  Almost thirty African-American business owners, teachers and other professionals came together to establish  the Niagara Movement.

 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established in 1909 by Mary White Ovington, Ida B. Wells, and W.E.B. Du Bois. The mission of the