Civil and Political Rights

How was the Afro-American League involved in civil rights?

The Afro-American League was launched under the leadership of Timothy Thomas Fortune (1856–1928), the editor of the newspaper The New Age. Delegates representing twenty-three states met in Chicago in October 1890 and officially formed the league, which grew from the ideas of Fortune. The league’s aim was to fight for the civil and political rights of Negroes and to seek full citizenship for all Americans. It espoused racial solidarity, self-help, and confrontation in the face of racial oppression and revolution. These goals were in response to rising discrimination, including: the overturning by the Supreme Court of the 1875 Civil Rights Act by declaring it was unconstitutional; the weakening of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments; lynchings; and other practices of disenfranchisement. Branches were located in forty cities. J. C. Price (1854–1893), the president of Lincoln University in Missouri, was elected the league’s president. As a vehicle for the fight for civil rights, the league was active for four years. However, it re-emerged in 1898 as the Afro-American Council established by Timothy Thomas Fortune and Alexander Walters, an African-American Episcopal Bishop. The council advocated and supported aggressive action and direct challenge; it ceased to exist in 1908. Other organizations, such as the Afro-American Council, Niagara Movement (1905), and NAACP (1909) filled the vacuum left behind.


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