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Mary Church Terrell
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Advocate
    (September 23, 1863-July 24, 1954)
    Born in Memphis, Tennessee
    Birth name was Mary Eliza Church
    Teacher, journalist, civil rights advocate, and suffragist
    Member of the Washington, DC, school board (1895-1906)
    First president of the National Association of Colored Women (1896-1902)
    Founding member of the NAACP (1909)
    Wrote 'A Colored Woman in a White World' (1940)
    Her father opposed her becoming a teacher for two reasons: first, she would be taking a job from someone who needed the money more than she did (her father, reportedly the first black millionaire in the American South, could easily support her); secondly, he wanted her to be 'a real lady,' which precluded working for a living.
    When she married Robert Terrell, she was forced to retire from teaching because they both worked at the same school (1891).
    She sometimes used the pen name Euphemia Kirk to get articles published in both the white and black press.
    At Oberlin College, she took the four-year 'gentleman's course' to earn a B.A. instead of a two-year 'lady's course.'
    She and Anna Julia Cooper were the first two black American women to earn Masters degrees (1888).
    She was the first black woman in the US appointed as a high school superintendent (1895), and as a member of a school board in a major city.
    As the only African-American to address the International Congress of Women in Berlin, she delivered her speech in German, French, and English (1904).
    She successfully challenged Alice Paul to integrate suffrage rallies (1913).
    In her late 80s, she began a campaign of lawsuits, sit-ins, and picketing to integrate the restaurants in Washington, DC.

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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