Mary Church Terrell
Mary Church Terrell (Forten/NPS Archives)

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a resolution recognizing the achievements of the late civil rights and feminist leader Mary Church Terrell by supporting the designation of Sept. 23, 2022, as Mary Church Terrell Day.

Terrell, the daughter of Robert Reed Church, a wealthy Black businessman in Memphis, moved to the District in 1887 to become a teacher at a school that later became known as Dunbar Senior High School. Norton is a graduate of Dunbar.

Terrell became one of the first Black women to graduate from college and was the first Black woman appointed to the D.C. Board of Education. She co-founded the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women.

“Mary Church Terrell is well-known for the battles she fought in the District of Columbia to demand a more equal America for Black women,” Norton said. “Her education empowered her to speak against the flaws of segregation and voter suppression. Our history books are littered with the accomplishment of men, but not enough of women, who like Mary Church Terrell, worked to change the world.”

The resolution can be found on Norton’s website. 

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