As part of a global community of ‘women of the darker races,” “Mary Church Terrell joined African Americans whose international perspectives on human rights, equality, and full citizenship broadened the scope of the civil rights movement. In the Cold War era, black activist forced the U.S. government to take civil rights more seriously as an issue with global, foreign policy ramifications.
Throughout her life, Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) championed peace, human rights, national self-determination, and full citizenship for all, irrespective of gender or race. In the 1920s, the prominent clubwoman Margaret Murray Washington created the International Council of Women of the Darker Races, with Terrell as a vice president, to develop pan-Africanism, cross-ethnic racial understanding, and an anti-colonial perspective. International peace conferences and the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights provided entry points for Terrell and other black women to present their activism as part of a freedom struggle of women and people of color around the world.