Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell (1864-1954)

Mary Eliza Church Terrell was an African American activist who advocated for racial equality and women’s suffrage. As a daughter of former slaves, Terrell was part of the growing black middle and upper class who used their position to fight racial discrimination. Her parents emphasized the importance of education and Terrell earned both Bachelor's and Master’s degrees before becoming a teacher.

Her activism career began in 1892 when a friend was lynched in Memphis. Her work focused on lifting African Americans up through education, work, and community activism. As she worked in racial equality, she began to support women’s suffrage, something she saw as essential for elevating the status of black women and thus the entire race. After the passage of the 19th Amendment, Terrell became the first black member of the American Association of University Women and spent the rest of her life working in the civil rights movement.

Content Created by Alice Ma