Mary Church Terrell was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1863 grew up in a financially stable, conservative, religious household as the daughter of two former slaves. Her activism began when an old friend of hers was lynched. Terrel focused on the notion of racial uplift through community activism and equal opportunity.
Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and was granted freedom via the Emancipation Proclamation. After losing her parents and brother to yellow fever, Wells had to work as a teacher to support her family. Her activism and news reporting focused both on lynchings and on economic inequalities and segregation.
These expressions of violence both stem from systematic oppression of African Americans as at the time there was stringent competition for labor work, and Southern whites felt entitled to these labor positions.
Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell took part in anti-lynching campaigns and strongly supported women’s suffrage. Both believed that granting women suffrage would serve to empower the African American race, since granting African American women the ability to vote would increase the number of African American voters.