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Starting in 1830 until well after the Civil War, free and fugitive Blacks came together in state and national political conventions to strategize about how they might achieve educational, labor, and legal justice at a moment when Black rights were constricting nationally and locally. The convention movement took place during critical decades which witnessed devastating race riots and the growing popularity of the American Colonization Society; the Fugitive Slave Law  and the proliferation of derogatory representations of Blacks; the Civil War and Reconstruction; and the rise of repeated Black disenfranchisement in legal, labor and educational spheres in the late nineteenth century. Speakers at conventions responded to these issues by calling for community-based action that gathered funds, established schools and literary societies, and urged the necessity of hard work in what would become a decades-long campaign for civil and human rights. The convention minutes collected here illustrate the immense struggles and the profound courage of those who made it a point to organize and stand for what was rightly theirs. 

This collection is in the process of being preserved in the University of Delaware Library Institutional Repository (UDSpace).

Select a convention to learn more information, to view minutes in a document viewer, or to download minutes in pdf format.

Conventions by Year

1865, "Alabama State Convention," Mobile, AL (Seeking Records)

1866, "New York State Convention of Colored Men, Albany, October 16, 1866," Albany, NY (Seeking Records)

1869, "Kentucky State Colored Educational Convention, Held at Benson's Theater, Louisville, KY, July 14, 1869," Louisville, KY (Seeking Records)

1869, "Maryland State Convention," Baltimore, MD (Seeking Records)

1869, "Virginia State Convention," Richmond, VA (Seeking Records)

1870, "Louisiana State Convention," New Orleans, LA (Seeking Records)

1871, "Memorial of a committee appointed at a meeting of Colored citizens of Frankfort, Ky., and vicinity, praying the enactment of law for the better protection of life.," Frankfort, KY (Seeking Records)

1871, "Call to the Colored People of the United States, May 14, 1871," Unknown, NE (Seeking Records)

1871, "Proceedings of the Ohio Colored Men's Convention," Columbus, OH (Seeking Records)

1871, "Call to the Colored People of the United States," St. Louis, MO (Seeking Records)

1871, "Proceedings of the Southern States Convention of Colored Men, held in Columbia, S.C., commencing October 18, ending October 25, 1871.," Columbia, SC (Seeking Records)

1872, "National Convention at New Orleans, LA," New Orleans, LA (Seeking Records)

1872, "New York State Convention," Troy, NY (Seeking Records)

1873, "Civil rights : memorial of National Convention of Colored Persons, praying to be protected in their civil rights.," Washington, DC (Seeking Records)

1873, "State Colored Men's Convention, Third Day," New Orleans, LA (Seeking Records)

1874, "Tennessee State Convention," Nashville, TN (Seeking Records)

1877, "Proceedings of the State Colored Educational Convention Held at Frankfort, Kentucky, August 22, 1877," Frankfort, KY (Seeking Records)

1877, "Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the House of Representatives in the City of Raleigh, N.C., on the 18th and 19th days of October, 1877," Raleigh, NC (Seeking Records)

1882, "Proceedings of the Convention of Colored Men, Held in Edwards Opera House, Parsons, Kansas. April 27th and 28th, 1882," Parsons, KS (Seeking Records)

1883, "Arkansas State Convention," Little Rock, AR (Seeking Records)

1888, "Proceedings of Consultation Convention of 350 leading Colored Men of Georgia. Held in Macon, Georgia, January 25th and 26th, 1888," Macon, GA (Seeking Records)