They both share the roots of being part of a direct post-slavery generation. They were living in the post-civil war reconstructionist south. This was a dangerous and tumultuous time for black people. The lynchings of black men and the blatant disrespect of black women fueled both of them. Living in a segregated community took a toll on them both, though their parents still encouraged them to obtain educations. After both having close friends lynched, their attention was turned to the African American plight and the physical toll racism was taking. Beyond racial lines, they both understood the intersectionality of being black women. They hit upon the duality of fighting against more than one system at a time every day – sexism and racism. “to the only group in this country that has two such huge obstacles to surmount…both sex and race.” – Terrell
Terrell was Methodist Episcopalian. Terrell talks more about the advantages white women have and their ability to ruin/end the lives of black men through unfounded claims. Her main focus was on the lynchings of black men based on the frivolous claims of white women. They possessed all the power in these dynamics, stripping men of their rights to fair trials and inflicting fear upon black men as a whole, and pain upon their families. This was prompted by the lynching of her close friend Thomas Moss. Terrell’s proposed solution was to promote racial uplift through education and community activism. She coined the phrase “Lift As We Climb”. She believed that if we could lift up the black race, especially black women, the associated respect and social equality would stem from it. All her efforts were aimed at ending the violence associated with segregation and historical racism.
Wells was Catholic. Wells focused on racial violence, specifically white mob violence and lynchings. She made a point of calling out white women who supported the suffrage movement but chose to ignore the plight of lynchings in the black sphere. Some of her intentionality in confronting white mob violence came from the lynching of one of her close friends. She became skeptical about the reasons black men were lynched began investigating various cases. She published her findings in a pamphlet and wrote her results in several different newspapers. She faced an immense amount of backlash, even to the point of forcing her out of her own city. She proposed urban reform and the sharing of information as solutions. If more people were truly aware of the reality and the people being affected were being properly supported, things would change.