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Mary Church Terrell: Civil Rights Activist and Co-Founder of the NAACP

Portrait of Mary Church Terrell by artist Amelie Chabannes.

Grade Level Grades 6-12
Resource Type Activity


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Learn about Mary Church Terrell, daughter of former slaves and one of the first African American women to earn both a Bachelor and a Master’s degree, who became a national leader for civil rights and women’s suffrage, in this video from Unladylike2020. Terrell was one of the earliest anti-lynching advocates and joined the suffrage movement, focusing her life’s work on racial uplift—the belief that blacks would end racial discrimination and advance themselves through education, work, and community activism.  She helped found the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Support materials include discussion questions and teaching tips for research projects. Primary source analysis activities emphasize how the content connects to racial justice issues that continue today, including a close reading of the Emmett Till Antilynching Bill of 2020.

Sensitive: This resource contains material that may be sensitive for some students. Teachers should exercise discretion in evaluating whether this resource is suitable for their class.

UNLADYLIKE2020 is a production of Unladylike Productions in association with THIRTEEN’s American Masters. UNLADYLIKE2020's collection of educational resources was created by The WNET Group’s Kids Media & Education Department with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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