Boston Guardian
Owner(s)William Monroe Trotter, George Forbes
PublisherWilliam Monroe Trotter
EditorWilliam Monroe Trotter
Ceased publicationca. 1950
HeadquartersBoston, Massachusetts

The Boston Guardian was an African-American newspaper, co-founded by William Monroe Trotter and George W. Forbes in 1901 in Boston, Massachusetts, and published until the 1950s.

In April 2016, an unrelated publisher launched its own Boston Guardian, a neighborhood weekly newspaper serving the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Downtown, Fenway, South End, and North End/Waterfront districts of Boston, despite criticism that it had appropriated a historic journalistic name for purely commercial reasons.


The Guardian, Vol I No 38, July 26 1902
The Guardian, Vol I No 38, July 26 1902

The Guardian was founded in November 1901 and published in the same building that had once housed William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator. In March 1901, Trotter helped organize the Boston Literary and Historical Association, a forum for militant race opinion.

The paper enjoyed broad appeal with readers outside of Massachusetts, featuring news of interest to people of color from across the nation, as well as social notes, church news, sports, and fiction. Within its editorial opinion columns, Trotter often assailed the conservative accommodationist ideology of Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute.[1]

The Guardian reached the peak of its circulation and prestige about the year 1910, roughly coinciding with the establishment of the National Association of Colored People, of which Trotter was a co-founder along with W. E. B. DuBois, et al. Trotter and Du Bois had previously joined with others in the formation of the Niagara Movement, immediate predecessor to the NAACP.

Within the pages of the Guardian, Trotter criticized the slow progress in Negro social advancement in the face of institutional racism, discriminatory practices, and de jure segregation. When Thomas Dixon's 1905 play The Clansman (based on Dixon's novel of the same name) was performed in Boston, the Guardian mounted a campaign that forced it from the stage. The stage production was adapted in 1915 into the film The Birth of a Nation by D. W. Griffith, which also faced a boycott campaign organized by the NAACP in Boston.[2]

With high circulation and substantial advertising revenue, the Guardian enjoyed financial success in addition to crusading for civil rights. However, when William Monroe Trotter died in 1934 of an apparent accident at his home, the Guardian had already seen its best years.[citation needed] The newspaper eventually ceased publication in the 1950s.[citation needed]


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.[3]

2016 publication

In 2016, the name was taken up by a new weekly title, published in Boston on Fridays by Guard Dog Media Inc. The publication is a neighborhood newspaper serving the Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway, South End, and North End/Waterfront districts of Boston. The publisher had previously produced the Boston Courant from 1995 to 2016. The new publication's name stirred up some controversy over the alleged appropriation of a historic journalistic name.[4][5][6]

See also


  1. ^ Rudwick, Elliott M. (Winter 1962). "Race Leadership Struggle: Background of the Boston Riot of 1903". The Journal of Negro Education. 31 (1): 16–24. doi:10.2307/2294533. JSTOR 2294533.
  2. ^ ""The Birth of a Nation" Sparks Protest". Mass Moments. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
  3. ^ Excerpt from Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept, New York, 1940, pp. 72–73. ISBN 0-87855-917-5
  4. ^ Conti, Katheleen (April 25, 2016). "Boston Guardian publisher criticized for using the name of a former African American weekly". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  5. ^ Leung, Shirley (April 22, 2016). "Publisher of shuttered Boston Courant launches new paper". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  6. ^ Hoover, Amanda (26 April 2016). "Boston weekly comes under fire for taking name of former paper". Retrieved 2016-07-18.

Further reading