Sam Heie: Unit 4, Assignment 1

Born within a year of each other, Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells lived in the period following the civil war in the midst of segregation, lynchings, hate crimes, and attempted reconstruction. Both were born in the South, Terrell in Tennessee and Wells in Mississippi, and both attained a higher education despite the odds being stacked against them. Their careers comprised of different types of activism against issues that respectively effected them; Terrell was an intersectionalist whose focused on empowering black women whereas Wells focused on uncovering and exposing lynchings through her investigative work.

Terrell was a Methodist and Episcopalian. She founded the African Methodist Episcopal church in Ohio as well as another Methodist church in the state. Terrell primarily focused on the advantages that White women had at the expense of Black women. The power imbalance and the concurrent racial violence was the target of Terrell’s work. She believed that better education would lead to an equal social standing between races and that community empowerment was the most effective way of achieving these goals.

Wells was a Catholic. Her investigative journalistic work attempted to trace the alleged reasoning behind lynchings that took place in the South. Unsurprisingly, an immense amount of the lynchings she investigated were committed on unfounded reasons if there were any reasons at all. She believed that if the menace of racial mob violence was exposed to the public eye, there would be more support in favor of reforming segregationist and racist policy.

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