“The hour has come in America for every woman, white and black, to save the name of her beloved country from shame by demanding that the barbarous custom of lynching and burning at the stake be stopped now and forever."
Mary Burnett Talbert was born September 18, 1866 in Oberlin, Ohio and graduated from Oberlin College in 1886 with a degree in literature. She taught at Bethel University in Little Rock for one year and then became assistant prinicipal of Little Rock's Union High School, the first African American woman in the country to be an assistant principal.
In 1891 she married William Talbert and moved with him to his home town of Buffalo. She was a founding member of Buffalo's Phyllis Wheatley Club in 1899, the city's first affiliate with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, which organized efforts to include an African American exhibit in the Buffalo's Pan American Exhibition of 1901 and to protest a plantation exhibit.
Niagara Movement were held in Talbert's home in 1905. She was also a founding member of the NAACP in 1909, forming a Buffalo chapter the next year and later serving as a national board member and anti-lynching committee chair. She was awarded the NAACP's Spingarn Medal in 1921, the first woman to receive this honor.
Talbert also worked to stop lynchings through the NACWC, which she served as national president from 1916 to 1920. During this time she was a delegate to the International Council of Women in Norway, and spoke throughout Europe about the conditions facing African Americans in the United States. Other priorities of the NACWC under her leadership were women's suffrage, prison reform, and restoration of the Frederick Douglass Home.
In addition to public speaking, Talbert wrote essays on a variety of topics, including the Achievements of African Americans in Twentieth Century Negro Literature. She died on October 15, 1923 at the age of 57.
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"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have." ~ James Baldwin
"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.