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Mary Church Terrell

  • Nobody wants to know a colored woman's opinion about her own status of that of her group. When she dares express it, no matter how mild or tactful it may be, it is called 'propaganda,' or is labeled 'controversial.' Those two words have come to have a very ominous sound to me.

  • I cannot help wondering sometimes what I might have become and might have done if I had lived in a country which had not circumscribed and handicapped me on account of my race, but had allowed me to reach any height I was able to attain.

  • ... some people cannot bear the truth, no matter how tactfully it is told. No doubt the haughty, the tyrannical, the unmerciful, the impure and the fomentors of discord take a fierce exception to the Sermon on the Mount.

  • No one color can describe the various and varied complexions in our group. They range from the deep black to the fairest white with all the colors of the rainbow thrown in for good measure. When twenty or thirty of us meet, it is as hard to find three or four with the same complexion as it would be catch greased lightning in a bottle.

    • Mary Church Terrell,
    • in The Washington Post ()
  • Stop using the word 'Negro.' The word is a misnomer from every point of view. It does not represent a country or anything else ... I am an African-American.

    • Mary Church Terrell
  • A white woman has only one handicap to overcome — that of sex. I have two — both sex and race. ... Colored men have only one — that of race. Colored women are the only group in this country who have two heavy handicaps to overcome, that of race as well as that of sex.

  • Lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition ere long ... Seeking no favors because of our color nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice and ask for an equal chance.

    • Mary Church Terrell,
    • "What Role Is the Educated Negro Woman to Play in the Uplifting of Her Race?" (1902), in Beverly Washington Jones, Quest for Equality: The Life and Writings of Mary Church Terrell ()
  • ... it is only through the home that a people can become really good and truly great ...

    • Mary Church Terrell,
    • "The Progress of Colored Women," address to the National American Women's Suffrage Association ()

Mary Church Terrell, U.S. civil rights worker, suffragist

(1863 - 1954)

Full name: Mary Eliza Church Terrell. Sometimes wrote as Euphemia Kirk.