Mary Church Terrell: An Original Oberlin Activist


In the District

Mary Church Terrell's footprints are very much in evidence in Washington, D.C. where she lived and worked for most of her life.   Her home in the LeDroit Park neighborhood was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975. Through the years the house, now owned by Howard University, deteriorated badly; fortunately, Howard received a grant from the Department of the Interior and National Park Service in 2018 to restore Terrell's former home on T Street, as well as that of Walter E. Washington, the first home-rule mayor of Washington, D.C. (1974-1979). 

More than 20 years after her death, an elementary school was named after Terrell. The dedication event was chaired by prominent civil rights historian Louise Daniel Hutchinson, and attended by then-Mayor Walter E. Washington. Terrell's daughter Phyllis Terrell Langston, age 80, was also in attendance and participated in the unveiling of a portrait of her mother by painter and 'father of African American art history' James Porter.  Given her love of music Terrell would have been delighted that a group called the Mary Church Terrell Singers performed the new school's song.

In 2004 the former Hecht Company department store in the Penn Quarter of the city, the site of frequent anti-segregation demonstrations by Mary Church Terrell and others, was named Terrell Place.

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