Women's History Month

The Washington Mystics are proud to celebrate Women’s History Month and the accomplishments of several African American activists from the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century.  Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Mary Church Terrell, and Mary McLeod Bethune built lasting legacies in Washington, D.C. as a result of their commitment to fight for civil liberties and social justice.

These four women helped to spark a movement that we continue to fight for today. While we have made tremendous progress over the past several decades, we still have work to do and are inspired everyday to make sure our voices are heard here in Washington, D.C. and all across the world.

The National Parks Service has designed a walk through several neighborhoods in D.C. where people can learn firsthand about Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Charlotte Forten Grimke, Mary Church Terrell, and Mary McLeod Bethune. The route takes walkers to some of the homes that these women lived in and where they worked while giving insight into what their daily lives were like and what each one was specifically fighting for.

Our map here provides directions for how to navigate the walking trail, but if you’d like to learn more, you can visit the National Parks Service website.

Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Born in 1823, Mary Ann Shadd Cary was an African American activist, writer, teacher, and lawyer. Cary and her family actively helped freedom seekers in the Underground Railroad. As the Civil War broke out in the United States, Cary helped recruit soldiers for the Union Army. After the war, she enrolled in the first class of Howard University Law School located in Washington, DC. While living in DC, Cary continued to work as a political activist, a teacher, and a writer. She also became involved with the women’s suffrage movement, the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.

Click here to learn more about Mary from the National Parks Service

Charlotte Forten Grimke

Charlotte Grimke was born in 1837 to free to activist parents. In the 1850s Grimke became increasingly involved in the abolitionist movement and published several poems in anti-slavery publications. While living in Washington, DC, she taught at a preparatory school later known as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. In 1896, Grimke helped found the National Association of Colored Women and remained active in the civil rights movement throughout the remainder of her life.

Click here to learn more about Charlotte from the National Parks Service

Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell  was born in Memphis, TN in 1863 to formerly enslaved parents. Throughout her life she dedicated her time to educating and job training for African Americans. Terrell also worked to end discriminatory practices of restaurants in Washington, DC.

Click here to learn more about Mary from the National Parks Service

Mary McLeod Bethune

Mary McLeod Bethune was an educator, civil rights activist, and advocate for women’s equality for more than three decades through the 1950s. Serving as the president of the National Council of Negro Women from its founding until November 1949, Dr. Bethune focused the council’s activities on segregation and discrimination. During the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bethune educated Eleanor Roosevelt, on the problems of African Americans in the United States and was one of several African Americans who had direct access to the White House.

Click here to learn more about Mary from the National Parks Service