This chapter focuses on the National Convention of Colored Men held in Syracuse, New York, in October 1864. The convention brought together a broader spectrum of northern black activists than had any previous African American meeting. It launched the northern black struggle for equal rights, which was undertaken in the face of widespread white opposition and indifference. This movement stands as the most important African American crusade for full citizenship rights prior to the modern civil rights cause of the 1950s and 1960s. The National Equal Rights League (NERL), which the Syracuse Convention created to coordinate the cause, became truly national in scope, with a network of state and local auxiliaries in every northern state from New England to the West Coast and in most of the southern states.
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