This is an essay about Mary Church Terrell.

Essay by RavenQueen67Elementary School, 5th grade March 2003

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Mary Church Terrell

Mary Eliza Church was born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 23, 1863 to Louisa (Ayres) Church and Robert Church, both former slaves. The Church family, however, soon settled into the black middle-class. After the Civil War, Robert opened a money making saloon and during the yellow fever outbreak of 1878-79 he, unlike many of Memphis residents, did not abandon his property. Rather, he bought as much land and property as he could and became the first black Memphis millionaire. Louisa Church owned a successful hair salon, the monies from which provided the family with its first home and carriage. When Church Terrell was about three years old her parents divorced. Her mother was granted custody of the two children, Mary and Thomas. Her father continued to see and support his family and ensured that Mary obtained the best education available to a black woman in the nineteenth century.

In 1891 Church married Robert Terrell, a young lawyer she had met while working at the Colored High School in Washington, DC. Robert Terrell worked for many years in education and law and became the first black judge for the District of Columbia, a post he held for over twenty years (1902-25), through Republican and Democratic presidents. Terrell and Church had one child, Phillis, named after the eighteenth-century poet Phillis Wheatley. In addition to Phillis, the couple adopted the daughter, Mary, of Church Terrell's brother Thomas. After both Robert Terrell's and Thomas Church's death, Church Terrell also raised her brother's son, Robert. Church Terrell attended Antioch University's Model School, where she excelled. She, like many other young black women of this era, obtained a Bachelor's degree in 1884 from Oberlin College, which was run by abolitionists and had admitted blacks in 1835. Instead of taking the Literary or "ladies'...