In the words of the African-American poet, Georgia Douglass Johnson, Mary Church Terrell was an “unhesistant, unyielding, and unafraid” activist for civil and human rights—unwaveringly fighting for suffrage, integration and the rights of Black women.
Terrell was born in the year of the Emancipation Proclamation and lived to see the Supreme Court rule that segregated public schools were unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education.
Terrell was one of the first African American women to graduate from college—graduating alongside Anna Julia Cooper at Oberlin.
She was the first African American woman appointed to the school board of a major city, a charter member of the NAACP and a cofounder of the National Association of Colored Women, serving as its first president.
She helped organize Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and co-wrote the “Delta Creed” in 1914.
She was also a prolific journalist, spoke French, German and Italian and continued fighting for civil and human rights until she passed in 1954.