"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mary Church Terrell

This 1946 portrait of Mary Church Terrell (September 23, 1863 - July 24, 1954) by Betsy Graves Reyneau hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Mary Church Terrell's determination to encourage the development of self-help and social service programs among black women resulted in her founding and presiding over the National Association of Colored Women in 1896. But her life was also dedicated to the achievement of equity for all. Terrell's influence quickly spread across the nation as she eloquently addressed audiences and composed numerous articles, poems, and short stories, which often embodied the themes of race and gender equity. Her autobiography,  A Colored Woman in a White World, was published in 1940. In Washington, Terrell served on the D.C. Board of Education for more than ten years and participated in numerous protests to end segregation in restaurants, hotels, and theaters in the city." -- National Portrait Gallery
 This engraving of Mrs. Mary Church Terrell appeared in the The Colored American 17 Feb. 1900. (Library of Congress)

Mrs. Mary Church Terrell
President of the National Association of Colored Women. Her Address on "Woman Suffrage" the Hit of the Recent Gathering of America's Brainiest Women.
An historical marker in Memphis Tennessee gives this biography of Mrs. Terrell.
"Born in Memphis in 1863, Mary Church Terrell was noted as a champion of human rights. The daughter of millionaire Robert Church, Sr., she was graduated from Oberlin College in 1884 and later made her home in Washington, D.C. In 1904, she was a delegate to the International Council of Women in Berlin, where she was the only woman to address the group in French, German and English. A 1909 charter member of the N.A.A.C.P., she was an active worker for women’s suffrage and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, in the 1950s she lead marches to desegregate restaurants in Washington, D.C. She authored A Colored Woman in a White World."
Professor Robert H. Terrell (Washington Bee, May 6, 1999)

Another marker in Washington, DC. discusses the house that Mrs. Terrell and her husband Robert H. Terrell lived in.
"Robert H. and Mary Church Terrell moved to their second LeDroit Park home, half of a double house at 326 T Street, in 1899. Robert Terrell, a Harvard graduate, became DC's first black Municipal Court judge in 1902. Mary Terrell, the National Association of Colored Women's first president, was instrumental in desegregating Washington. The 1953 Supreme Court decision to decision to uphold 80-year-old laws guaranteeing equal access to restaurants, stores, and other public facilities resulted from a lawsuit initiated by Mary Terrell and fellow activists."
Today, only the half of the duplex house the Terrells lived in exists. The other half burned down long ago. The vacant house is one of Washington's most endangered.

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