Unit Four Assignment One

By: Caison Gray

Both Wells and Terrell are black female activists from the late 19th century. Terrell’s writing focuses on the violence of exclusions, describing how black women in Washington are excluded from necessary life resources. These stabling life resources included shelter, goods, jobs, and overall general equality. The extent of the discrimination Terrell wrote about of black women created an unstoppable disadvantage. Wells wrote about the violence of lynching, which was a form of mob violence against black people. Wells described lynching as an “unwritten law” that was a part of United States society. When there was any conflict between black and white people, lynching dictated the black person would be killed. There was no option of a trial or any form of fair consideration. The violence of lynching took away the safety, freedom, and lives of black people in the United States. Both of the forms of violence were results of the racial prejudice that exists in the United States. The long-standing idea that white people are superior to black people has caused there to be unjust treatment of black people that exists today. Terrell offered the solution, to black people, of rising up and do their absolute best to prosper in society. Black progress was how Terrell believed the violence could be solved. Wells focused more on the deconstruction of the oppressive system by fighting lynching in every possible way.

Unit 4 Post 1 Rachel Gronberg

Both Terrell and Wells were born in the early 1860s and become successful women in their fields and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement despite the oppressive Jim Crow laws of the time.

Terrell was born to two freed slaves who became among the richest black people in the south at that time. She studied at Oberlin college, where instead of following a “ladies” curriculum she studies more vigorous “mens” subjects, and then worked in the Civil Rights Movement and the Suffragette Movement. It is clear that her parents were more conservative religiously than she was.

Wells was born into slavery and was emancipated with them during the emancipation proclamation, but her parents and brother died a few years later of yellow fever. Wells went to college and was a very skilled writer, and became a cofounder of the NAACP (though not formally recognized as such).

Though it is hard to find a clear religious affiliation of either woman, we can see some differences in their rhetoric that align with their childhoods. Terrell grew up with a father as a millionaire, and her rhetoric is mostly about the job opportunities that black women are prevented from getting due to racial prejudice. Wells focuses instead of the systematic horrors of lynching, which she could be more determined to write about because she was born into slavery. I will not say that the difference in these women’s childhoods is why they focused on different issues within the Civil Rights Movement, but it is interesting to consider their differences in studying these great leaders of the movement.

UNIT 4 POST 1 Jack Lyons

Terrell appears to be associated with the Methodist church and to be of a religiously conservative background. She refers to a kind of exclusionary violence: the violence of Jim Crow. “As a colored woman I may enter more than one white church
in Washington without receiving that welcome which as a human being I have a right”, “Unless I am willing to engage in a few menial occupations… there is no
way for me to earn an honest living”. All these refer to a kind of blindness, or refusal to acknowledge black people, in particular women, as human beings who are entitled to their rights as such. Moreover, Terrell understands the lack of hope in education that so many black youths have. To her, this is the greatest impediment second only to the outright oppression of Jim Crow. Perhaps she hints that reforming this attitude is a solution to their situation. As for Ida B. Wells, there appears to be a religious rooting for her belief in equal rights as well and, as seen after doing some cursory research, she became a writer and editor for the black-owned newspaper The Free Speech and Headlight, which was based out of a Baptist church. The violence Ida B. Wells confronts is the violence of lynching, which is responsible for the “inhuman butchery of more than ten thousand men, women, and children by shooting, drowning, hanging, and burning them alive”. This is a much more tangible violence, perhaps. A violence which is easily quantified and impossible for any person with a semblance of moral consciousness to ignore. Moreover, this lynching finds its so-called ‘justification’ in the necessity “to prevent crimes against women.” Of course, this means only white women and it entails a demonization of black men as a result. Wells also asserts that “The negro has suffered far more from the commission of this crime against the women of his race by white men than the white race has ever suffered through his crimes”, pointing at the hypocrisy and fallacious justification for this heinous crime. Wells also seems pessimistic about the situation, stating that “there has been no single effort… to put a stop to this wholesale slaughter… the silence and seeming condonation grow more marked as the years go by.” Overall, she urges for repeated exposure of these crimes by the press in order to make lynching a reality that cannot be ignored.

Unit 4, Post 1 Angelo Dean

Poke around and see what you can find out about Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells, including any information about their respective religious affiliations/backgrounds. Terrell described one kind of violence: Wells, another. Based on each woman’s comments, can you discern common roots for these different expressions of violence? How do women (black and white) constitute the particular focus of both Terrell and Wells? Do Terrell and Wells propose responses or solutions to anti-black violence?

Ida B Wells was raised in the Catholic denomination of Christianity and uses her religious to pride commentary on the lynchings that occurred during the Jim Crow era of American history. She refers to the lynchings as a calculated, deliberate act carried out by intelligent people who “avow that there is an unwritten law that justifies them putting human beings to death…” This is a form of institutionalized violence as well as symbolic, and normalized violence. These were meant to keep African Americans in a state of fear, in an attempt to prevent them from rising in the societal hierarchy. Mary Church Terrell, a member of the Methodist Episcopalian denomination of Christianity, speaks on a form of structural violence that also becomes a normalized form of violence. Terrell specifically speaks of the discrimination that highly and in most cases, overqualified African Americans faced in the occupational sphere. This structural violence was applied simply based on the single drop ideology which states that if one contains a single drop of African blood then they are considered Black. A race that could not be employed in white institutions due to the backlash that those institutions would face from their respective intended audience. These two forms of discrimination are similar in the fact that they were both used as tools to not only oppress Black people but also to reinforce the inferiority that they believed was inherent in being African American. Both women also comment on how those forms of discrimination affected the African American community stating that they simply became a fact and that black people should just accept it. This acceptance is what makes these acts of oppression a form of normalized violence because the black community eventually internalized the toxic environment that they were placed in. While they describe these daily occurrences of time, they do not provide possible solutions to the violence, almost as if they too have internalized the normativity of them.

Unit 4 Assignment 1-Natalie Zhu (17th Nov)


Born on 23 September, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee. 

Daughter of small-business owners who were former slaves.

One of the first African-American women to earn a college degree in 1884.

The first president of the National Association of Coloured Women and a charter member of the NAACP.

An early advocate for civil rights and the suffrage movement.

Source: https://www.biography.com/activist/mary-church-terrell


Born on 16 July, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi.

Her family was decreed free by the Union about six months after her birth.

An African American journalist, abolitionist and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. 

Co-founder of National Association of Coloured Women in 1896.

Battled sexism, racism, and violence. 

Source: https://www.biography.com/activist/ida-b-wells


Terrell talks about how a coloured person, especially a coloured woman, can be unequally treated and even excluded from white people in the U.S. capital, Washington D.C. She uses examples of how a coloured person cannot sit in the restaurants, cannot find a place to stay, or cannot go into the theatres. She focuses more on the effect of separation and exclusion caused by the Jim Crow Laws. Wells, at the same time, talks about the brutal violence of lynching targeted at coloured people. She describes the increasing brutality during the years, and how a single word from a white woman can sentence a coloured man to death and torture. She focuses more on the cruelty of the torture and violence of lynching. Both of the two violence are directly caused by the hatred towards black people during the post slavery era. 

Both of them talk about women in their essays. Terrell describes how a coloured woman face separation, exclusion, and loneliness in D.C., while Wells writes that a single word from a white woman can lead to brutal torture. This drastic contrast effectively reflects racial inequality and discrimination toward coloured people. 

Unit 4 Post 1: Aimee Duran

Although Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell discuss different types of violence, both are developing the idea that violence exists in a variety of ways. Wells’ violence is physical violence where colored people suffered lynchings and hangings due to false accusations that white women made against them. These were common throughout the South, but the North had lynchings as well, so the North was no better than the South. Terrell, on the other hand, talks about the social violence in Washington DC. The discrimination against colored people in the capital affects the way that colored people get to interact in a city that is trying to bring justice to all races. Both authors may be talking about different types of violence, yet both impact the community of colored people. They share backgrounds in that they are both colored women and they have a past filled with violence that their ancestors had to go through. Both are proposing their responses to what has happened in the nation and give context as to reasons why colored people went through such injustices.

Unit 4 Assignment 1-River Meng

Mary Church Terrell was a charter member of the NAACP and an early advocate for civil rights and suffrage movement. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Terrell was perhaps most well known to be one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree(Oberlin College). As an activist, Terrell criticized the unequal educational opportunities for African-Americans, especially African-American women. She argued that unfair educational opportunities are as bad, if not worse, than direct violence against African-Americans and pushed for an integrated public school system. 

Ida B. Wells was an African-American investigative journalist famous for her exposing of lynchings in the South in the 1890s. Wells was born into slavery in Mississipi and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. Like Terrell, Wells was also a founding member of the NAACP. In her autobiography, Crusade for Justice, Wells argued that the logic behind lynching wasn’t criminal but economic. She contended that lynching and general violence against African-Americans were tactics of economic subordination, used to protect the economic dominancy of the white population. 

Based on each woman’s comment, one common root for these different kinds of violence is the idea of alterity, treating a group of people as the “others”. In this case, African-Americans were treated as the others because of their skin color. And the different kinds of violence were means that white people have utilized to force African-Americans into subordination, both socially and economically. Women’s rights is a common focus of both Wells and Terrell since both had to battle sexism in their time. Both Wells and Terrell were huge advocates for women’s suffrage movement and they pushed for more education opportunities for women. Terrell’s proposed solution to anti-black violence is through education. She argued that only through an equal and integrated education system could anti-black violence be stopped. On the other hand, Wells’ method of combating anti-black violence was to raise the public’s awareness by exposing horrendous images of lynching happening in the South after the Civil War. 

Unit 4 post 1- Sarah Zhang

Wells and Terrell are both black female activists in movements for equality, championed racial equality and women’s suffrage. Both authors are born with a close connection to slavery (Terrell was the daughter of a former slave while Wells was born into slavery and became politically active after war). Terrell later joined Wells in her anti-lynching campaign, after both authors lost one of their friends due to lynching.

In the reading material “What It Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States,” Terrell condemned the discriminations towards African Americans in the society that is penetrated by Jim Crow laws. Having received high education (graduated with Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Oberlin college), she knew the importance of education but saw the helplessness and the hopelessness facing the insurmountable obstacles that prevents people of color to pursue what they deserve. The obstacles lead to the “lack of incentive to effort.”

For Ida B Wells, she found it ironic that the people were blinded from the questions, raised from morally-corrupted lynching, that vilify the country, and its people, as a whole. First, the economic cost paid in indemnities for lynching mounted to a half million dollars. Second, the Anglo-Saxon civilization, who knew the teachings of Christianity, had fallen to the point where it is incapable of protecting its women. The third point, which can find resonance in Terrell’s speech as well, is the huge “chasm between the principles upon which this Government was founded, in which it still professes to believe,” and the actual daily practice carried out “under the protection of this flag.” It is ironic, that the country had been active in claiming to right the wrongs but in reality was perpetuating the wrongs.

Tomás Quintero: Unit 4 Assignment 1


Mary Church Terrell:

  • B: September 23, 1863 in Memphis Tennessee, D: July 24, 1954
  • African American Activist for racial equality and women’s suffrage in the 1800’s and 1900’s
  • Daughter of former slaves who became successful business owners
  • Was from the black middle and upper class and attended Antioch College laboratory school in Ohio and then Oberlin College
  • Believed in the importance of education: 
    • Taught at Wilberforce College (HBCU)
    • Taught at M Street Academy a highschool for people of color in DC
  • Married Heberton Terrell, in 1891, who was also a teacher
    • Had a daughter and adopted another
  • Activism sparked in 1892
    • After the Lynching of Thomas Moss in Memphis––Anti-black violence
      • Due to his business competing with a white business
    • Joined Ida B. Wells in her efforts
    • Helped create the National Association of Colored Women (NACW––1896)
      • President of the Association from 1896-1901
    • Actively campaigned to elevate the status of black women
      • “The only group inthis country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount…both sex and race.”
    • Became one of the founders of the NAACP in 1906
    • Became one of the Charter members of the National Association of University Women in 1910
    • In 1953, she challenged segregation in public places by protesting the John R. Thompson Restaurant in Washington, DC and won
  • There seems to be no religious background but it shows that she values education and she came from a high social class

Ida B. Wells:

  • B: July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs MS, D: March 25, 1931
  • African-American investigative journalist, educator, and a key player early on in the CRM
  • Born into slavery with politically active parents during the Reconstruction Era (1863-1867)
  • Attended Fisk University, Rust College, and Lemoyne-Owen College––believes very strongly in an education
  • Became an educator follow the death of a brother
  • Became involved in activism
    • Joined the fight against lynching after the death of a friend––became a journalist and fought white mob violence
      • Confronted white women involved in the suffrage movement about lynching
      • Traveled internationally
    • Founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club (1896)
    • Was “unofficially” involved as a founding member of the NAACP
  • Parents were very religious––instilling racial consciousness
    • Civil rights and justice are not just social, political, and economic, but christian tenets
    • Religious beliefs stemmed from parables that denied black rights and promoted the lynching of black men


Both of these women point out that the origin of violence stem from hatred and fear. With Wells, we see that her focus is more on the corporeal forms of violence which arise from lynching while Terrell shows us that there is violence in civil discrimination, as seen with social barriers. Both Wells and Terrell target women, particularly those that are involved in the suffragist movement since they believe in the value of education and in the power of the ballot box. By doing so, both of these people are capable of expressing themselves, therefore, uplifting the position of black people in the United States in order to counteract anti-black violence. By engaging in these actions, I would say that this is a response and a step to the greater solution to anti-black violence in the United States. 

Unit 4 Post 1 — Louis Onoratini

Terrell — A christian, a catholic to be more precise. She was one of the first African-American women to get a college degree. She describes the everyday violence African-Americans face. They are turned away from education, jobs and public office. They are always seen as second options behind the white people. White’s are constantly privileged even when they have less skills than the African-American workers or students. This violence of not being to strive because of the color of one’s skin is one that these people could not get away from. It was constant. 

Wells — Does not seem like she was very religious. She was a journalist at the start of the civil rights movement. Ida B. Wells talks about the relentless lynching of Africa-Americans. For all sorts of made up reasons, judges would let black people be killed publicly and usually very graphically, making sure they felt pain. These people were just killed because they were black, nothing else. Life was not a given for them, making them live in constant fear. 

Both — Both of the violence they speak of are deeply rooted in the legal system. Nothing that happened to these people was illegal back then so no one could really stand up against it. These acts of violence were deeply ingrained in American culture which made them right in the eyes of the people. In both of these readings, women are key because they are doubly victims of these violences. They either experience them first hand or experience them through their husbands. Back then, women were also looked down upon so most of them were not allowed to work and banked on their husbands for survival. So, when their husbands lost their jobs or were killed, these women were left to fend for themselves; they had to fight a very uphill battle. White women were complicit to that violence, they followed what their husbands did because they were not allowed to think for themselves back then. The only solution to anti-black violence was the revamping of all the Jim Crow laws in order to have real equality. However, getting that hate out of the peoples’ mind is a whole other battle, that we still fight to this day.

Erica Harris- Unit 4 Assignment 1


Terrell was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863, and her parents were former slaves (Michals 2017). Growing up, her household was religious and conservative (Johnson 2019). She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Oberlin College, and she joined the anti-lynhing campaign (Michals 2017). She later became president of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and campaigned for civil rights and women’s suffrage (Michals 2017). In “What is Means to be Colored in the Capital of the United States,” Terrel describes segregation and how African Americans were denied from going to certain theaters, going to universities, and almost every business. She talked about how African American women could not find any work and how they faced violence and assault if they entered certain places. Terrell focuses on how African American women walked around hungry without a place to stay. This is a different type of violence than Wells describes with lynching, but it is still violence because they were being denied certain rights. They were being denied rights to work, education, and even just entering a building. Segregation goes back to slavery and treating people differently and horribly based on the color of their skin. Terrell describes how “persecution based solely on the color of the skin appear[s] more hateful and hideous… in the capital of the United States” (212). 

Michals 2017


Johnson 2019 



Wells was born in Mississippi in 1862 and was born into slavery (Norwood 2017). She was denied the right to sit in a train, and she campaigned against lynching (Norwood 2017). Her press was burned by the town, and she moved to Chicago where she continued to fight against lynching (Norwood 2017). She was very religious, and she used many religious parables in her arguments (Schechter 2001). In Southern Horrors, Wells describes lynching and how people were put to death for nothing. It happened throughout the history of the country and started again in the South. She describes how white women contribute to the killings. They could accuse an African American man of insulting or assaulting them, and the men would be put to death. Almost all the accusations did not have a basis, and the violence was caused by the public. The lynchings were publicized, and the public would treat it like entertainment. Wells describes how the lynchings are barbaric and are happening around the country. She talks about how the country and people turn a blind eye to the killings and how they need to be stopped. 

Norwood 2017


Schechter 2001 


Unit 4 Assignment 1 Elizabeth Vair

Mary Church Terrell

Ida B Wells

  • Born into slavery in Mississippi 
  • Parents became politically active in the Reconstruction Era  
  • Took a job as an educator after her parents and infant brother died of yellow fever 
  • When one of her friends was lynched, she began to investigate the reasons behind white mob violence 
  • Joined the boycott of the World’s Columbian Exposition for their lack of representation
  • Travelled internationally to shed light on lynching and confronted white women in the suffrage movement who ignored lynching 
  • Founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Club and was a founding member of the NAACP but is not credited
    • https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/ida-b-wells-barnett
  • Led by her religious beliefs which were grounded in Christian ideals 

Based on both women’s comments, the common roots for these expressions of violence are fear and hatred. Terrell talks about violence in the form of discrimination from jobs, while Wells focuses on more physical violence such as lynchings. Both these kinds of violence can stem from the fear of change that the white population had to face post-slavery. With this, hatred also came for the black population as whites avoided the realities of what they had done, and instead chose to oppress the others as much as they could to avoid changing the racial dynamics they had grown accustomed to. Women are the focus of both Terrell and Wells as they believe that women’s suffrage and education can help counter anti-black violence by raising their race as a whole. This is both a response and a solution. It is a response to the immediate problem, however, it can be seen as a long term solution that will not show its impact until several generations later. 

Unit Three Assignment Three

By: Caison Gray

In both the Gourevitch and Sontag texts, images of violence and suffering, along with individual’s reactions to them, are discussed. Gourevitch describes corpses of genocide victims, focusing on those of the Rowanda genocide especially, and the aftermath of the genocide. Along with a description, Gourevitch provides personal accounts from survivors of the Rowanda genocide to provide even more information of the severity of the genocide to his readers. Gourevitch aimed to make his audience feel uncomfortable by challenging them with the realities and horrors of the Rowanda genocide that were kept from them by the mainstream media. Sontag discusses in her writing the effects of both the censorship of disturbing images by the media and the lack of effect the overuse of disturbing images can have. Gourevitch’s opinion of the under-publicized genocide in Rowanda is an example of disturbing images and accounts that would influence readers to change their opinion. However, according to Sontag, the images and accounts would simply be interpreted in an individual’s mind to fit their own preconceived thoughts. The individuals who see the images or read the stories will feel sympathetic towards the victims of the Rowanda genocide, but it still will not be apparent to them to become actively preventative of such horrors from happening again.

Unit 3 Assignment 3-Natalie Zhu (27th Oct)

Both of these two passages talk about how medias, films, and images create bias towards a truth. People have different perspectives, so do the photographers and people behind the medias. Thus, there’s almost no absolutely fair and objective media in the world. Medias and images choose to present an event or a problem based on their understanding and perspectives. Sontag talked about censorship in her book, that most media are censored by the government. We can actually see that most media in real life has a clear political stand, and those who do not follow a government’s value will be easily called offline. To prove that, Gourevitch had the dog example—people believe that the reason why there’s no dogs in Rwanda is that dogs eat dead bodies, but the negative feeling towards that is basically due to mass media which tells people that dogs eating dead bodies is a big hygiene and safety problem. Sontag also said that “the camera brings the viewer close, too close,” which implied that people can easily be controlled by the photographers. They perceive what the photographers want them to perceive in photos, and thus being so influenced by the bias.