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

Friday, July 10, 2020

Mary Church Terrell

This c.1901 photo of Mary Church Terrell and Phyllis Terrell (Langston) by George V. Buck appeared in an exhibit celebrating the 19th Amendment at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The platinum print belongs to Moorland-Springarn Research Center at Howard University.
Mary Church Terrell lost three newborn babies, before her daughter, Phyllis, was born. Terrell journeyed from Washington, D.C., to New York City to give birth because it was believed that black women received better medical care there. Yet she returned to the capital city, where Terrell Place at F and 7th Streets was later named in her honor.
Before Phyllis was born, Terrell established herself as a leader of black women’s citizenship rights. At the National Woman Suffrage Association Convention in 1890, she declared, “ a white has only one handicap to overcome – great one true, her sex; a colored woman faces two – her sex and her race – a colored man has only one that of race.” 
 In 1892, she founded the Colored Women’s League of Washington, and in 1896, she helped form the National Association of Colored Women (NACW). She served as the first president of NACW a federation of black women’s clubs whose membership included Ida B. Wells-Burnett. -- NPG
Wikipedia says that Phyllis Terrell was “a suffragist and civil rights activist. She worked alongside her mother, Mary Church Terrell, in the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and the White House pickets during demonstrations made by the National Woman's Party. Phyllis died on August 21, 1989 at her summer home in Highland Beach, Maryland - just as her mother had in July of 1954.” See Brian Oloo's biography of Phyllis Terrell (Langston).

Phyllis Terrell 

This photo of Mary Church Terrell taken between 1920 and 1940 by Harris & Ewing is accompanied by a caption:
Despite ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, obstacles to voting remained, especially for African American women. In [an] October 1920 letter, educator and civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell, one of the founders of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896, declared herself  “the first victim: of post-ratification voter suppression north of the Mason & Dixon Line.” She described to NAACP president Moorfield Storey how a train ticket agent sought to arrest her after she inquired about an African American Republican Party organizer in Delaware.  (LOC)

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