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.