Monday, June 6, 2011

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell - September 23, 1863 – July 24, 1954, daughter of former slaves, was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree. She became an activist who led important associations and worked for civil rights and suffrage.

In all matters affecting the interests of the women of her race. Mrs. Mary Church Terrell, of Washington, D. C., is a leading spirit. Three times in succession she was elected President of the National Association of Colored Women by most flattering majorities. When, according to the provision of the constitution, which limits the term of officers, Mrs. Terrell could not be re-elected president, she was made Honorary President.

She has twice been invited to address the National Woman Suffrage Association at Its annual convention in Washington. Her public utterances have always made a profound impression on her hearers and no speakers associated with her have received more applause from audiences or higher praise from the public press than herself. Not many years ago when Congress, by resolution granted power to the Commissioners of-the District of Columbia to appoint two women on the Board of Education for the public schools, Mrs. Terrell was one of the women appointed. She served in the board for five years with great success and signal ability.

Mrs. Terrell is the only woman who has ever held the office of President of the Bethel IJterary and Historical Association at Washington, the foremost and oldest Lyceum established and controlled by colored people in America. Her splendid work as presiding officer of this organization had much to do with her other subsequent success in attaining similar positions in other bodies of deliberation.

Mary Church TerrellMrs. Terrell's life has been an interesting one. She was born in Memphis, Tenn., of well-to-do parents.

She graduated at Oberlin College in 1884 with the degree of A. B. In 1888 she received the degree of A. M. from Oberlin. She was for a while a teacher at Wilberforce University at Xenia, Ohio. In 1887 she was appointed teacher of languages in the Colored High School at Washington. She went abroad for further study and travel in 1888 and remained in Europe two years, spending the time in France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.

She resumed her work in Washington in 1890. In 1891 she was offered the registrarship of Oberlin College, being the first woman of her race to whom such a position was ever tendered by an institution so widely known and of such high standard.This place was declined because of her approaching marriage. In 1891 she was married to Mr. Robert H. Terrell, who is a graduate of Howard College and who was recently appointed by President Roosevelt to a Federal Judgeship in the District of Columbia, being one of the two colored men first to receive this high distinction.

Mrs. Terrell has a daughter whom she has named Phyllis, in honor of Phyllis Wheatley, the black woman whose verses received the commendation of George- Washington and many other distinguished men of her time.

Mrs. Terrell is now engaged by a lecture bureau. She has traveled extensively in the West, speaking before large audiences and everywhere her talks have received the highest praise. The Danville, 111., "Daily News," speaking of her address before the Chautauqua of that town, says:

"Mrs. Terrell's addresses are the pure gold with less dross of nonsense than any lecturer that has come upon the stage at this Chautauqua. From the first word to the last she has something to say, and says it as a cultured lady in the best of English, which has no tinge of the high falootin or the sensational. Such speakers are rare. She should be paid to travel as a model of good English and good manners."

Mrs. Terrell's eloquent utterances and chaste diction make a deep impression, which must have influence in the final shaping of the vexed problems that confront the Negro race in this country. Her exceptional attainments and general demeanor are a wonderful force in eradicating the prejudice against colored women. She is making an opening for her sisters as no one else is doing or has ever done.

TEXT CREDIT: Twentieth century Negro literature: or, A cyclopedia of thought on the vital topics relating to the American Negro.

Title Twentieth century Negro literature: or, A cyclopedia of thought on the vital topics relating to the American Negro Editor: Daniel Wallace Culp. Publisher: J. L. Nichols & co., 1902. Original from: the University of Michigan. Digitized: Sep 17, 2008. Length: 472 pages. Subjects: Literary Criticism › American › African American, African American authors, African Americans, Afro-Americans, Literary Criticism / American / African American, Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies.

TEXT RESOURCE: Mary Church Terrell From Wikipedia

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