Monroe Trotter’s Protest to Woodrow Wilson

(1914)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

In the first paragraph, Trotter reminds the president that, a year earlier, he and other black leaders had presented a petition, signed by persons from thirty-eight states, “protesting against segregation of employees of the National government whose ancestry could be traced in whole or in part to Africa.” The focus of the group’s concerns was the U.S. Treasury and Post Office, where “all the forms of segregation … are still practiced.” Trotter reminds Wilson that the group had urged him to undo this racial segregation and that “there could be no freedom, no respect from others, and no equality of citizenship under segregation for races,” particularly when such segregation was so rampant in the federal bureaucracy. Trotter highlights the social, political, and personal damage of such an arrangement, noting how the implied labeling of African Americans as “a lower order of beings” consigned them to an “inferiority of status.” Trotter...

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Woodrow Wilson (Library of Congress)

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