Mary Church Terrell Biography
(African-American Suffragist, Civil Rights Activist)
Birthday: September 23, 1863 (Libra)
Born In: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Mary Church Terrell was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree. She was a renowned national civil rights activist and an early advocate for women’s suffrage movement. She was one of the founder members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and worked tirelessly for African-American women to become respectable citizens of the United States. Born to a pioneer businessman in Tennessee, his parents were former mixed-race slaves who regarded education as essential in earning racial uplift and respect in the society. After earning her college degree, Mary started her career as a teacher and went on to be appointed principal of the high school. As the first elected president of the National Association of Colored Women, Terrell campaigned vigorously for black women’s suffrage. She lectured throughout the country on the importance of the vote for black women and deemed it essential for the elevation of black women and consequently the entire black race. Following the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, Mary turned her attention to civil rights and became the first black member of the National Association of University Women. During the last years of her life, she marched against segregation with her committee members, displaying an immense willpower to fight against injustice. She was a highly respected lecturer and civil rights activist who battled to better the lives of African American women throughout her life.