African American civil rights: Early activism and the Niagara Movement by Angela Jones

The paper is devoted to the review of the book by Angela Jones African American civil rights: Early activism and the Niagara Movement. Firstly, attention will be given to the analysis of book’s structure and organization. The next stage of the review is devoted to arguments that an author presents in her work. Special attention will be given to comprehensibility of these arguments. The next phase of the analysis is devoted to the overview of the author’s research process, whether it was narrow and based on a few works of authors with limited views on the situation or the writer studied works of many authors with different viewpoints. Moreover, it is vital to analyze a piece of information on the subject of bibliography presented in the book, namely primary and secondary sources that were used in research. Furthermore, the question of author’s objectiveness about the presented historical facts will be studied. Finally, the critical analysis of information provided in the book will be presented.

The book African American civil rights: Early activism and the Niagara Movement by Angela Jones was published in 2011 by ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California. The book unfolds a vast piece of information on the topic of early activism in the history of African American people social activities. The book is well-structured and easy to read. Moreover, being compared to other books on this subject, Angela Jones’ book has an advantage in comprehensibility and the information layout. The structure of the book is logically supported and well-organized. All arguments that were provided in the author’s work are based on the description of the events that was extracted from well-known scholarly sources. Furthermore, the author’s research was based on the Niagara Movement’s “Declaration of Principles”. The document was carefully studied through the book and most of the proposed information is based on the “Declaration”. In addition to the “Declaration”, the author used numerous manuscripts that were related to the topic and could be found in different libraries (e.g. “The W.E.B. Du Bois papers and special collection”, “The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University” and many others). As well as manuscripts, Jones used a considerable number of newspapers, magazines and journals that appeared in the process of first steps and during the Niagara Movement (e.g. The Age, The Conservator, The Freeman, etc.). Also, African American Biographical Database was used as an electronic source. Moreover, the book does not lack additional and secondary sources. In fact, Jones studied a vast number of works by different authors that were devoted to the topics of the Niagara Movement and the process of African Americans fighting for their civil rights.

The main part of the book is based on the analysis of already existing facts on the topic. However, an author has conducted a perfect research in the sphere of time-related manuscripts. Through the book, Jones cites parts of manuscripts and related newspapers either in order to analyze them or to prove the proposed fact. In addition to the careful study of sources, the author provides a good argumentation and answers to some questions that arise while reading other books related to the topic. However, despite an interesting layout of facts and the representation of the whole historical picture in tones of sympathy to the Niagara Movement, provided arguments do not have either a tone of prejudices or predispositions. Moreover, the author tries to be as objective as it is possible and conducts a research with only a little input of personal point of view on the situation.

The book provides more specific and deeply-studied information on the topic of the Niagara Movement. Jones concentrates on positioning the leading problems of the Movement and presents them in chronological and logical order. Through such positioning, the author shows that the Niagara Movement was a well-supported organization and, despite being suppressed by the government, had the growing number of followers in many circles and with different levels of influence. By citing and analyzing a considerable number of historical sources (manuscripts, newspapers, journals, magazines), Jones proves that the Movement was far from destruction. Furthermore, she proves that this organization was in the process of gaining strength and widening the circle of supporters, both African Americans and those Americans that were fighting for equal rights of people. Further, the author provides reasons of the Movement’s disappearance. In the process of writing, Jones provides many ideas from the books of other authors that specialized in the topic. However, she did not contradict other authors but only fulfilled her own ideas and arguments while using theirs. The main idea of the book was to show that the Niagara Movement was not another one-day organization without any structure and a plan for existence. The author wanted to prove that this movement was completely different from others. Moreover, Jones wanted to show that the Niagara Movement played a significant role in the history of movements for African American rights. All these goals were achieved and, what is more, the book appeared to be interesting in reading and easy in comprehension of facts. In addition to the leading goal of the book, the author provides information about the leading characters of the Niagara Movement. For example, Jones names the most noticeable leaders of the Movement from the very beginning of its activity. Moreover, she extracts the names of American activists that made a significant input to the activity of the Movement.

The main strength of this book is in its grounding and comprehensiveness. However, the book has a weakness in actuality and importance of writing. Despite showing a magnificent research talent and the ability to work with facts, Jones has chosen a topic that was studied by a vast number of authors. However, none among the authors that studied the topic of African American civil movements got so deeply into the topic of the Niagara Movement and early activism of African American representatives. Moreover, none of the authors had shown such a deep understanding of the concrete historical situation as Jones had. Furthermore, Jones offers a new specific look on the American history that was provided by a little number of other authors. In addition to the main part of the analysis on early activism in African American freedom movement, the author examines information about the role of women and the black press in the process of the protest. Although not all aspects of African American early activism are studied in this book, most of them are carefully examined and give out a validated research analysis. In addition, some aspects of African American activism movements that were not studied by other researchers of the topic were highlighted in this reading.

Summarizing information above, it can be stated that the book is a well-written, well-structured, and easy in reading and comprehension piece of writing. Moreover, it provides well-based arguments in favor of some positive aspects in the question of early movements for African American rights. The book can be recommended to the readers that want to widen their viewpoint on some aspects of American history. In addition to the importance of the input into the study of American history, the author provides a significant piece of work on the topic of biography of remarkable people. The whole impression from reading is positive. Moreover, this work can be a certain basis for readers of any age that would like to begin their study on African American civil rights.


  1. Jones, A. (2011). African American civil rights: Early activism and the Niagara Movement. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO.