NEGRO CONVENTION MOVEMENT The "Negro Convention Movement" had its origin in the North during the early nineteenth century. In 1830, a group of "Free Negroes" seeking "to devise ways and means for the bettering of [their] condition" met in Philadelphia in what is usually regarded as the first Negro Convention. For the next five years, annual national conventions were held, with subsequent conclaves (both on the national and state levels) meeting intermittently from 1835 until the late nineteenth century.
For the most part, the antebellum conventions were concerned with improving the socioeconomic condition of free blacks on the one hand and denouncing the continuance of black enslavement in the South on the other. The post-Civil War Negro Conventions, which were fewer in number, were primarily concerned with voicing opposition to Jim Crow practices throughout the United States. Led and attended by the most distinguished and prominent leaders of the black race in America, the Negro Conventions acted as sounding-boards and clearing-houses for problems common to all African Americans and, in this fashion, demonstrated a degree of unity which would ultimately mature during the twentieth century.