Civil and Women’s Rights Activist Mary Church Terrell Featured in Traveling Exhibit

Will run through March 1 at The College of Wooster’s Andrews Library lobby

WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster is hosting a traveling exhibit on Mary Church Terrell, a civil and women’s rights activist, through March 1. The exhibit, which opened Jan. 14, features 10 biographical banners with documents and photographs in display cases in the lobby of Andrews Library (1140 Beall Ave.).

Terrell, born in Memphis, Tenn., in 1863, graduated from Oberlin College in 1884 and was inspired to become a social activist after a close friend was lynched in 1892. She went on to help form the Colored Women’s League in Washington, D.C. to address social problems facing black communities and the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), becoming the first president of the latter. The NACW adopted the motto “Lifting As We Climb” and promoted racial uplift through education and community activism. In 1909, Terrell signed the charter that established the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP), and in 1910, she became one of the founders of the College Alumnae Club, which was later named the National Association of University Women (NAUW).

Mary Church Terrell and others protesting discrimination, c. 1952, Washington, D.C.

In addition to founding and chairing numerous organizations, Terrell also used her writing and her oratory skills to advance her social and political interests. As a speaker, she was described as eloquent, courageous, determined, and concise in delivering her message. Her scholarly articles, poems, and short stories about race and gender appeared in numerous journals and magazines and her autobiography, “A Colored Woman in a White World,” details her own battles with gender and race discrimination in the United States.

Advertisement for Mary Church Terrell Lecture, June 21, 1905, at Allen Temple African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, Ohio

Andrews Library is open Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. – 2 a.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 2 a.m.

Photos courtesy of the Oberlin College archives.