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[[image - black & white photograph of Sojourner Truth]]
[[caption]] Sojourner Truth was not only an abolitionist but an ardent speaker for temperance, prison reform, better conditions for working people and woman's suffrage. [[/caption]]

[[image - black & white photograph of Harriet Tubman]]
[[caption]] Harriet Tubman, who was born a slave on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about 1823, ran away and brought many others to freedom. During the Civil War she was a nurse, a spy and a scout. She lived until 1913. [[/caption]]

[[image - black & white illustration of the Colored National Convention, 1876]]
[[caption]] April 5, 1876, in Nashville, Tennessee, studied the civic and political problems of the Negro. [[/caption]]


were to attack discriminatory laws and practices against free Negroes and to encourage the education and organization of Negroes for self-liberation.

After the formation of the American Antislavery Society some Negro leaders came to oppose "complexional" conventions and advocated that Negroes should integrate white societies and meetings as fully as possible. Consequently, the Annual Convention was discontinued after 1835. However, conventions were held from time to time on the state and local levels, and in August, 1843, the national movement was revived with a Convention meeting in Buffalo. More than seventy delegates attended. The discussions and resolutions reflected a new militancy and disillusionment with the small efforts on the part of the anti-slavery societies to attack racial discrimination in the Northern states and even within their own ranks. But generally a spirit of optimism prevailed. While a resolution calling for the overthrow of slavery by physical force was rejected by a majority of only one vote, the Convention endorsed the Liberty Party and thus affirmed its belief that the abolition of slavery could be achieved peacefully through the instrumentality of organized movement.
 
National Conventions met periodically after 1843 and state Conventions were held quite regularly. The emphasis in the 1840's was on equality before the law, political action, and demands for granting the franchise to Negroes. In spite of strong pressure from the Garrisonian abolitionists, the Conventions refused to declare the Constitution of the United States a proslavery document, but instead pledged themselves to support each other in testing the constitutionality of oppressive laws.

The optimism and the willingness to use political means of achieving freedom and equality were beginning to show signs of erosion by the 1840's and the next decade saw a growth of nationalistic sentiment and a revival of emigration proposals and projects. This new spirit resulted from such developments as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott Decision.

The Negro Convention Movement continued into the Civil War period and beyond. Obviously the Movement was not successful in achieving the goals sought, many of which are not yet a reality. But it would be a mistake to consider the Movement a failure. The Convention Movement provided an arena in which Negroes could express their hopes, aspirations and frustrations with a lack of restraint that would have been impossible in the interracial meetings of the day.
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