Unit 4, Assignment 1 – Emily Ezell

Both Mary Church Terrell and Ida B. Wells experienced lives influenced by blatant racial discrimination. Terrell’s parents raised her and her siblings in a financially stable household. As a member of the upper-middle class, Terrell used her position to fight racial discrimination. She focused on racial uplift, believing that racial discrimination could end with the social advancement of blacks through education, work, and activism. Although she joined Ida B. Wells in her anti-lynching campaigns, Terrell’s efforts towards civil-rights focused more on social disparities rather than violence. Unlike Terrell, Well’s found violence a more pressing example of racial discrimination. As a journalist, activist, and researcher, Wells documented incidents of white mob violence and lynchings across the United States. Despite the two women’s different expressions towards violence, they shared similar religious backgrounds and beliefs. Both Terrell and Wills grew up with similar religious upbringings. Later in life, Terrell taught at a university founded by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which influenced her approach towards social activism. The Methodist Church emphasizes charity and works of mercy. Its members follow Christ’s command to spread the good news and serve all people. Specifically, African Methodism advocates for the civil and human rights of African Americans. Members of the African Methodist Church fight for equality through the social improvement, religious autonomy, and political engagement of African Americans. Similar to Terrell’s experience with the intersection of religion and civil rights, Wells wrote for a black church’s weekly newspaper. Wells served as the editor and co-owner of The Free Speech Headlight, a black-owned newspaper based at the Beale Street Baptist Church in Memphis. The religious beliefs of the church, along with her religious upbringing, led Wells to base many of her arguments on racial equality on religion. In summary, Terrell and Wells both fought racial discrimination and advocated for women’s suffrage through a religious lens inspired by their upbringings and work surrounding the church.

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