Born on September 23, 1863, Mary Church Terrell became a writer, lecturer, and an educator. Her family was one of the wealthier families in Memphis, Tennessee, even though both her parents had been born into slavery. Even though her family was wealthy, Mary still experienced segregation. Once, while traveling on the train her family was sent to the Jim Crow car.
Experiences like these led Mary to realize that racial injustice was wrong and must be fought. Mary Church was one of the first black women to finish college, when she graduated Oberlin College in 1884. She got a job teaching in Wilberforce, Ohio, and then went to the Preparatory School for Color Youth in Washington, D.C. Mary quit teaching after marrying Robert Terrell. Then she spent the rest of her life as a lecturer, women's rights activist and leader of the Black women's club movement. Mary became one of the first women Presidents of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association. This group discussed important issues and questions of the time. She became the first President of the NACW, the National Association of Colored Women, and served from 1896 to 1904. The NACW addressed issues such as lynching [lynching is execution without due process of law], Jim Crow laws, suffrage, and the way rural women lived.
Under Mary’s leadership the NACW established training
programs for black women. In 1954, Mary Church Terrell died at the
age of 90.
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