Mary Church Terrell was born to two former slaves on September 23, 1863 in Memphis, Tenn. Throughout her life she has accomplished many things that have advanced American society and have further benefited the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Mary was a very educated woman. She was secondary schooled in Washington D.C. and received her college education at the Wilberforce College. She was one of the first African American women to graduate and get a degree from College. Mary has both her Bachelor's and Master's degree. She was fluent in three foreign languages; French, German, and Italian.

Mary Church Terrell was not an ordinary woman during this time. She was both a woman and of African decent, making harder to accomplish these outstanding things. Getting a college degree almost seemed totally out of reach for her. Mary Church Terrell overcame all of these bumps in the road. Once she received her degree, she set herself to work to help people like her. Women who were being held back because they were woman and people who were being held back due to the color of their skin. She involved herself and created many different groups that worked endlessly to get these people the rights that they deserved. Her intelligent mind and her passion pushed her further and further on a daily basis to achieve more and more for the people she cared about.

This page was created to reflect on Mary Church Terrell's outstanding accomplishments and focus on the contributions she made that makes the modern day a better place. She passed in 1954 right at the beginning of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.


  • She taught at a black secondary school
  • Worked with Frederick Douglass
  • For two years, she spent time in Europe studying.
  • In 1895, Mary was given a position in the District of Columbia's School District. This made her the first black women to have this position.
  • She was a writer and wrote a book called "A Colored Woman in a White World"
  • Founded the Colored Women's League.
  • She was a member of the National American Women Suffrage Association. She was one of the first women's activist.
  • She was the first president of the National Association of Colored Women.
    • A fight for black women to be able to vote.
  • The only black woman to speak at the International Congress of Women in 1904 which was held in Berlin, Germany.
    • She spoke her speech in French, German, and English.
  • Was a leader of a large protest against segregated eating places. This resulted in intergrating eating places in Washington D.C.

As you can see, Mary Church Terrell's list of accomplisments seems to be never ending. The number of lives she has helped changed is even greater. Everything she has involved herself in in and has dedicated herself too made the modern civil rights movement more successful. Without her protests about segregated eating, whites and blacks would still be eating seperately. People who lacked the courage to fight found the courage in her. She inspired more people to stand up for not only themselves byt for their rights that they deserved.

Mary Church Terrell never lived to see how her actions led to equal rights. Her vision for a better future came true and it's being lived out by thousands of people to this very day. What she did began the climb to the climax of the modern civil rights movement. She created groups that still exist to this very day to make sure the gift of equal rights is never taken away from anyone.

Take away the NAACP, the fight for intergrated eating places, the suffrage associtaions. Now that they're gone, how successful would the Civil Rights and Suffrage movements be? Along with the many others, she helped progress a movement that would forever change American society. Without Mary Church Terrell our world wouldn't be the same.

To answer the question of how did all of this affect the people and the era of Jim Crow is clearly obvious. How were the people affected? The people saw the courage and passion that she had. This made them want to fight. It let the people know they weren't alone in the struggle and that if she, a person with two forces (African decent and a woman) working against her, could do it, then so could they. How was the era affected? The era was presented with challenges that it didn't expect and had no idea how to fight. Obstacles were overcame and steps were taken forward. Her actions encouraged total involvement of the people. Without the groups she created and the roads she paved, there would be a very weak base for the start of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.

"Lifting as they climb, onward and upward they go, struggling and striving and hoping that the buds and blossoms of their desires may burst into glorious fruition ere long." - Mary Church Terrell




By Menel Tlili & Jade Perry