RODGERS, M. M.
RODGERS, M. M. (1859–1921). M. M. Rodgers, black Republican politician and businessman, was born on July 13, 1859, in Wharton County, Texas. He received a degree from Prairie View Normal College in 1881. Afterwards he taught at several schools and served as a principal in Fayette County until 1887. Rodgers, a successful businessman, head of the local Negro Business League, and advocate of black "self-help," became deputy collector of internal revenue for the third district in 1887 and held the post until 1909. His friendship with Booker T. Washington, an influential supporter of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, gave him significant influence over political patronage in Texas. Elected as city alderman of La Grange in 1887, and a five-time delegate to the Republican National Convention, Rodgers also served as Republican chairman of the Eighteenth Senatorial District, composed of Austin, Lavaca, Colorado, and Fayette counties. During the 1890s within the Texas Republican party a serious split developed between a coalition of black and white Republicans, known as the "Black and Tan" faction, and a group of all-white Republicans known as the "Lily Whites." The lily-white movement was determined to purge the party of African-American influence. In 1898 in an attempt to counteract that threat, Rodgers and another influential black American, William McDonald, formed an alliance with the chairman of the Republican State Executive Committee, E. H. R. Green. A further split developed within the black membership, however, which complicated their efforts. By 1902 the split within the black membership appears to have been resolved after the all-white faction gained the majority within the party. Rodgers and McDonald for a short time supported Robert M. La Follette and the Progressive party before returning to the Republican fold and supporting William Howard Taft in 1912. Previously, Rodgers had become active in the prohibition movement, serving as chairman of the statewide black Prohibition League. He was secretary of the Baptist Missionary and Education Convention of Texas and a trustee of Houston College. He died on May 18, 1921.
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