Civil Rights

Mary Burnett Talbert

Mary Burnett Talbert (1866-1923) was a prominent African American civil rights activist, suffragist, and orator. She played a crucial role in advocating for racial equality, women’s rights, and social justice during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Talbert was born on September 17, 1866, in Oberlin, Ohio. She grew up in a progressive and educated family, with her father being a minister and her mother a schoolteacher. Talbert attended Oberlin College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1886.

Throughout her life, Talbert fought against racial discrimination and injustice. She became involved in numerous organizations and movements dedicated to advancing the rights and well-being of African Americans. Talbert was an active member of the National Association of Colored Women (NACW), serving as president from 1916 to 1920. She also worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was a founding member of the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP.

This photo from a 1922 edition of the Crisis Magazine pictures Mrs. Talbert with other former presidents of the National Association of Colored Women.

Talbert was known for her powerful oratory skills and used her voice to address issues such as lynching, voting rights, and educational opportunities for African Americans. She frequently spoke at national and international conferences, advocating for social and political change.

In addition to her work in civil rights, Talbert was involved in the women’s suffrage movement. She believed in the intersectionality of racial and gender equality and fought for the rights of African American women within the suffrage movement. Talbert was a founding member of the Alpha Suffrage Club, which aimed to engage African American women in political activism and encourage their participation in elections.

Mary Burnett Talbert’s tireless efforts made her a prominent figure in the fight for civil rights and women’s rights. Her commitment to justice and equality continues to inspire activists today. Talbert passed away on October 15, 1923, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy and social change.

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