Although The World Was Against Her, She Never Gave Up
In 1898, six years after Ernestine Rose died, the black activist Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) addressed the 50th anniversary meeting of the National American Women's Suffrage Association. "Fifty years ago a meeting such as this, planned, conducted and addressed by women would have been an impossibility," she declared. "Less than forty years ago, few sane men would have predicted that either a slave or one of his descendants [both her parents had been enslaved] would in the century at least address such an audience in the Nation's Capital at the invitation of women representing the highest, broadest, best type of womanhood, that can be found anywhere in the world." This to me, she continued, "is a double jubilee, rejoicing as I do, not only in the prospect of enfranchisement of my sex [US women could not vote until 1920] but in the emancipation of my race. When ERNESTINE ROSE, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony" began this movement, it was still "forbidden to teach slaves to read and not only could they not own property, but even their bodies were not their own." Church Terrell, among many other achievements, was one of the founders of the NAACP.
Although Rose became forgotten by the 1920s, Terrell's speech is proof that she was still honored at the end of the nineteenth century. Today, we would do well to remember the battles of this feminist pioneer, who fought for abolition as well as free thought. Although the world was against her, she never gave up.