I recently received the National Association of University Women’s (NAUW) Mary Eliza Church Terrell award for exemplary global acts of service as a Hopeologist at the organization’s HBCU Sunshine State Luncheon.
When I first received the news about the award at the beginning of the year I was honored and when I researched information about Mary Eliza Church Terrell, I was humbled.
Mary Eliza Church Terrell was a renowned educator and speaker who campaigned fearlessly for women's suffrage and the social equality of African Americans. She was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1909, Terrell was among the founders and charter members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Then in 1910, she co-founded the College Alumnae Club, later renamed the National Association of University Women.
She died July 24, 1954, two months after the Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education. In between, she advocated for racial and gender justice, and especially for rights and opportunities for African American women.
It is so wonderful to see her legacy carried on by the National Association of University Women.
I first heard of this organization from my dear friend Aaronetta Frison, the daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Bernyce Clausell who founded the Tallahassee Chapter of NAUW. I was the keynote speaker at one of their events and I could feel the camaraderie and empowerment of this organization.
That power was on full display at the HBCU Sunshine State luncheon when Dr. Larry Eugene Rivers, Distinguished Professor of History at Florida A&M University spoke about the history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He was very engaging in his presentation and the significance and importance of HBCUs was demonstrated eloquently.
To be honored at the NAUW 73rd Biennial National Convention brings me hope, and along with this quote by Mary Eliza Church Terrell, keeps me moving forward.
"And so, lifting as we climb, onward and upward we go, struggling and striving, and hoping that the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst into glorious fruition 'ere long. With courage, born of success achieved in the past, with a keen sense of the responsibility which we shall continue to assume, we look forward to a future large with promise and hope. Seeking no favors because of our color, nor patronage because of our needs, we knock at the bar of justice, asking an equal chance."
Rosalind Y. Tompkins received a doctorate of humanities degree from the Five Fold Ministry Theological University in 2012. Find out more at makeahopeconnection.com.
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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: 'Onward and upward': Mary Eliza Church Terrell award is an honor