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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Remembering Mary Church Terrell

Mary Eliza Church Terrell was born on this day, September 23, in 1863. When she was only six, her parents sent her from their home in Memphis, Tennessee, to Ohio, so that she might obtain a quality education, which was not available in her home state. She went on to achieve many things that were thought to be impossible for someone of her sex and color at that time:
  • She secured not only a college degree, but also her master's degree (in 1885.)
  • In 1896, with the help of women like Harriet Tubman and Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Terrell co-founded the National Association of Colored Women by merging two women's groups for African-Americans. She served as president three times.
  • Terrell was an avid suffragette, as well as a proponent of racial equality. She was a founding member of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.
  • She passed away July 24, 1954, in Annapolis, Maryland.

One excellent resource for this remarkable woman comes from the Library of Congress. Click the link to find a plethora of resources about Mary Church Terrell. If you're looking for print sources, try her autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, or the juvenile biography, Fight On! Mary Church Terrell's Battle for Integration.

We leave you with these words from a speech she gave to the National American Women's Suffrage Association in 1898:
And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance.

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