Bringing 19th-Century Black Organizing to Digital Life

From 1830 until well after the Civil War, African Americans gathered across the United States and Canada to participate in political meetings held at the state and national levels. A cornerstone of Black organizing in the nineteenth century, these “Colored Conventions” brought Black men and women together in a decades-long campaign for civil and human rights.

Featured Exhibits

Our interactive, digital exhibits use historical images and documents to provide further insight into the Colored Conventions and expand our understanding of early Black organizing.

Gooch Monroe Family

Equality Before the Law: California Black Convention Activism, 1855–1865

The rapid succession of four California state conventions indicates how quickly Black men and women began to work together toward their vision of achieving economic, civil, and human rights.

Philadelphia Bethel AME Church sketch

The Meeting that Launched a Movement: The First National Convention

The gathering of African American leaders from various regions of the antebellum north, held at Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel AME church in 1830, is universally considered to be the inaugural national Colored Convention. For several reasons, the 1830 convention eludes simple categorization.

The Colored Conventions and the Carceral States

This exhibit explores the Colored Conventions movement’s protest against the justice systems of the states of California and Georgia. Both states egregiously targeted African Americans engaging in forms of ethnic cleansing and labor exploitation. It also looks at the legacy of this protest, exploring the contributions of Black women reformers who continued the resistance against incarceration into the twentieth century.

Cover image for Fight Black Mobility exhibit

The Fight for Black Mobility: Traveling to Mid-Century Conventions

With a focus on news, migration and the popular lecture circuit during the 1850s, this exhibit investigates the ways men and women delegates and collaborating activists in their social networks claimed Philadelphia as site for an inter-state and international movement furthering race uplift.

Featured Exhibits

Our interactive, digital exhibits use historical images and documents to introduce the Colored Conventions and expand our understanding of early Black organizing.

Gooch Monroe Family

Equality Before the Law: California’s Conventions, 1855–1865

The rapid succession of four California state conventions indicates how quickly Black men and women began to work together toward their vision of achieving economic, civil, and human rights.

Philadelphia Bethel AME Church sketch

The Meeting That Launched a Movement: The First National Convention

The gathering of African American leaders from various regions of the antebellum north, held at Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel AME church in 1830, is universally considered to be the inaugural national Colored Convention. For several reasons, the 1830 convention eludes simple categorization.

The Colored Conventions and the Carceral States

This exhibit explores the Colored Conventions movement’s protest against the justice systems of the states of California and Georgia, both of which egregiously targeted African Americans to carry out forms of ethnic cleansing and labor exploitation. It also looks at the legacy of this protest, exploring the contributions of Black women reformers who continued the resistance against incarceration.

Cover image for Fight Black Mobility exhibit

The Fight for Black Mobility: Traveling to Mid-Century Conventions

With a focus on news, migration and the popular lecture circuit during the 1850s, this exhibit investigates the ways men and women delegates and collaborating activists in their social networks claimed Philadelphia as site for an inter-state and international movement furthering race uplift.

Collage of convention documents

The Colored Conventions Digital Records

Documents Spanning Seven Decades of Black Political Organizing

Starting in 1830 and continuing until well after the Civil War, free, freed and self-emancipated Blacks gathered for in state and national political conventions. The convention minutes collected here illustrate the immense struggles and the profound courage of those who insisted on organizing and standing for what was rightly theirs.

red illustration of sankofa

Colored Convention Project
Principles

At the core of CCP, we endeavor to incorporate these principles in all facets of our work.

Colored Conventions Project
Curriculum Vitae (CV)

The project CV documents our collective work.

About the Colored Conventions Project

The Colored Conventions Project (CCP) is an interdisciplinary research hub that uses digital tools to bring the buried history of nineteenth-century Black organizing to life. Mirroring the collective nature of the nineteenth-century Colored Conventions, CCP uses inclusive partnerships to locate, transcribe, and archive the documentary record related to this nearly forgotten history and to curate engaging digital exhibits that highlight its significant events and themes.

color photo of group

The Colored Conventions Project appreciates the support of:

 

The Colored Conventions Project was launched & cultivated at the University of Delaware from 2012-2020.