Civil Rights Pioneers
Mary Church Terrell and Mary White Ovington
Issue Date: February 21, 2009
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Serpentine die cut 10 ¾
Friend of abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, Mary Church Terrell was one of the first African American women to graduate from college in the United States.
After a friend’s lynching, Terrell sought President Benjamin Harrison’s public support against racial violence. Failing that, she adopted a pen name and often wrote about the civil rights of both blacks and women.
Blazing a trail for others, Terrell became the first African American to serve on the Washington, D.C., Board of Education. Refused service in a local restaurant in 1950, Terrell filed a lawsuit. As a result, a Washington court ruled segregation of restaurants unconstitutional.
Mary White Ovington, suffragette and journalist, co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Called the “Mother of the new Emancipation,” her lifelong fight for equal rights was fueled by the oratory of Frederick Douglass.
Ovington was further inspired by an article about the violent race riots in Illinois. The outcome of her meeting with the author was a 1909 conference planned for the 100th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. This important event led to the founding of the National Negro Committee, and the next year, the NAACP.
Ovington was involved in several successful Supreme Court appeals against discriminatory laws in the South.