Mary Church Terrell Essay

583 words - 2 pages

Mary Church Terrell

One of the leading black female activists of the 20th century, during her life, Mary Church Terrell worked as a writer, lecturer and educator. She is remembered best for her contribution to the struggle for the rights of women of African descent. Mary Terrell was born in Memphis, Tennessee at the close of the Civil War. Her parents, former slaves who later became millionaires, tried to shelter her from the harsh reality of racism. However, as her awareness of the problem developed, she became an ardent supporter of civil rights. Her life was one of privilege but the wealth of her family did not prevent her from experiencing segregation and the humiliation of Jim Crow laws. While traveling on a train her family was sent to the Jim Crow car. This experience, along with others led her to realize that racial injustice was evil. She saw that racial injustice and all other forms of injustice must be fought.
After deciding that the best way to prove the abilities of African Americans was to excel academically, Terrell enrolled in the four-year "Classical" or "Gentleman's Course" at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio and graduated in 1884. As a graduate of Oberlin College, Terrell was among the first black women to complete a college education. Terrell went on to study French, German, and Italian languages in Europe for two years. In 1891, Oberlin College offered her the position of registrar of the school, including a faculty position, but she declined because of her forthcoming marriage to Richard Terrell. Instead, she took a teaching position at Wilberforce University in Ohio, and later at M Street High School in Washington, D.C. During its centennial celebration in 1933, Oberlin recognized her as one of its one hundred outstanding alumni, and...

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