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Home > Conventions

Conventions

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. 

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

Conventions by Year

1853, "Proceedings of the Ohio State Convention of Colored Freemen: Held in Columbus, January 19th-21st, 1853," Columbus, OH (Seeking Records)

1853, "Minutes and Proceedings of the General Convention for the Improvement of the Colored Inhabitants of Canada, Held by Adjournments in Amherstburg [sic], C.W., June 16th and 17th, 1853," Amherstburg, ON (Seeking Records)

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

1865, "North Carolina State Convention," Raleigh, NC (Seeking Records)

1865, "Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of the State of Tennesseeizens of Tennessee.," Nashville, TN (Seeking Records)

1866, "Proceedings of the Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Arkansas," Little Rock, AK (Seeking Records)

1866, "Proceedings of the Illinois State Convention of Colored Men, Assembled at Galesburg, October 16th, 17th, and 18th," Galesburg, IL (Seeking Records)

1866, "Proceedings of a Convention of Colored Citizens: Held in the City of Lawrence, October 17, 1866," Lawrence, KS (Seeking Records)

1866, "New York State Convention," Albany, NY (Seeking Records)

1866, "Tennessee State Convention," Nashville, TN (Seeking Records)

1867, "Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men, Held at Lexington, Kentucky, in the A.M.E. Church, November 26th, 27th and 28th, 1867," Lexington, KY (Seeking Records)

1868, "Proceedings of the Iowa State Colored Convention: Held in the City of Des Moines; Wednesday and Thursday, February 12th and 13th, 1868," Des Moines, IA (Seeking Records)

1868, "Address of the Colored Men's Border State Convention to the People of the United States Through Their Representatives in Congress Assembled," Baltimore, MD (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, "Proceedings of the Convention of Colored Citizens of the State of Minnesota in Celebration of the Anniversary of Emancipation and the Reception of the Electoral Franchise: on the First of January, 1869," St Paul, MN (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," 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.," Washington, DC (Seeking Records)

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

1873, "Convention of Colored Citizens in Texas," Brenham, TX (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, TN (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)

1883, "Address of Hon. Fred. Douglass [delivered before the National Convention of Colored Men, at Louisville, Ky., September 24, 1883]," Louisville, KY (Seeking Records)

1883, "Proceedings of the State Convention of Colored Men of Texas," Austin, TX (Forthcoming)

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)