Mary Eliza Church Terrell Biography
Mary Eliza Church Terrellcivil rights and women's rights activist
Birthplace: Memphis, Tenn.
Although Church Terrell's parents had been born slaves, they eventually became wealthy through business and real estate dealings and provided their daughter with the best education available to women at that time. She attended Oberlin College in Ohio, earning a bachelor's degree in 1884 and a master's degree in 1888. After a two-year tour of Europe, Church Terrell settled in Washington, DC, and became active in the suffragist movement, founding the Colored Women's League in 1892. In 1896 this club merged with the National Federation of Afro-American Women to become the National Federation of Colored Women, and Church Terrell was elected its first president. In 1895 she became the first African American woman appointed to the District of Columbia Board of Education. A charter member of the NAACP, she was a popular lecturer on equal rights for women and blacks and served as a delegate at various international women's rights congresses. She was also a prolific writer on social issues and the recipient of honorary doctorates from Howard University and Wilberforce and Oberlin colleges.Died: 7/24/1954