Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Mary Church Terrell
So she became the class poet at Oberlin College (the student body of which was primarily White and male) and graduated first with her bachelor's degree and then with her Master's, editing The Oberlin Review when she had a minute. Becoming a college teacher herself, Terrell did ultimately marry at the age of twenty-eight (which was old for a woman at that time). But even after marriage, she let Frederick Douglass persuade her to remain an activist, rather than settle down to be a respectable judge's wife.
So she served on the District of Columbia Board of Education for a decade in the late 1800's and early 1900's. She was active in the National American Women Suffrage Association. She helped to form the Federation of Afro-American Women and served as the first President of the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. She founded the National Association of University Women, was the only Black woman at the International Congress of Women in Berlin in 1904, was one of the founding members of the NAACP, helped to organize the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., picketed the White House over one thing or another on a regular basis, and helped to force the desegregation of restaurants in Washington, D.C., in the early 1950's. In her eighties. An in-your-face woman may look soft and pretty, but sometimes that's just camouflage.