The Curious Adventures of William Monroe Trotter

A Research Film Studio Production awarded by grant from Princeton Histories Fund

Woodrow Wilson was the most prominent intellectual of the white supremacist culture war waged against equal rights for Afro-Americans. Wilson propagated a falsified history of the Civil War and Reconstruction. He also glorified the Ku Klux Klan as the legitimate ruler of the South. As President, Wilson reshaped the federal government to reflect the general will of the Southern whites to dominate Afro-Americans and unleashed a state propaganda machine to change public opinion in the North that hitherto rejected white supremacy.

On the presidential campaign trail, Wilson made the promise to William Monroe Trotter, founder of the Equal Rights League, that, as President, he would uphold the law that granted equal rights to Afro-American citizens. Trotter then organized the black vote for Wilson, despite the latter being the candidate of the Democratic Party. Trotter first went to the White House in 1913 to remind the president of his promise of equality and freedom for Afro-Americans. Wilson made yet another empty promise to look into the complaint about segregation of the federal government, pretending that he had no knowledge of it.

Our first short film is a reenactment of the third meeting between Trotter and Wilson, as documented by official White House transcripts. Trotter this time sets a mousetrap for Wilson and actually catches the conscience of the king.

Our research-filmmaking method, in which artistic imagination is guided by disciplined scholarship, is best suited for the exploration of the cunningly covered-up, under-documented, falsified and disremembered history of the American people. In addition, the cinematic reenactment of Trotter’s successful outing of Wilson as the political force behind the legalization of segregation could be cathartic if screened on the Princeton campus.

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