Mary Church Terrell: A Life of Activism from Emancipation to Desegregation

Click to hear Ep. 8: Ohio v. Activism

Mary Church Terrell was born in 1863 the year of the Emancipation Proclamation and died months after the landmark Brown v. the Board of Education Supreme Court decision in 1954. Over four generations, she was involved in fighting for African American rights on the front lines. A truly remarkable life. Her story is too little told but there’s so much to get to.

We’re joined by four guests to discuss her 90 years of struggle against injustice, including her formative years in the Buckeye State. Joan Quigley, author and attorney, discusses Mary’s battles from suffrage, founding the NACW and the NAACP, anti-lynching legislation and her victory in the US Supreme Court to desegregate Washington DC. Joan’s book about MCT, Just Another Southern City (2016) is a fantastic read and you can buy it here.

Alison Parker, professor of history at the University of Delaware and author of Unceasing Militant (2020), a new biography of Mary Church Terrell joins the show. We discuss Molly Church’s life: born into slavery, her lifelong love of education and the many social justice issues she addressed in her incredible life. Give Alison’s book, Unceasing Militant, a read by clicking link here

We also head to historic Oberlin College, Mary’s alma mater and meet with Ken Grossi, archivist and Eboni Johnson from the Mary Church Terrell Library. Ken and Eboni discuss her years in Ohio from her early childhood through her graduation at Oberlin in 1884. We analyze her time in Ohio and the influence of Oberlin, one of the first co-educational and mutli-racial, colleges in America at its founding in 1833. Check out the excellent digital exhibit from Oberlin on their famous alum, Mary Church Terrell here

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