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In an era characterized by Jim Crow Laws the inability for women to vote high religious affiliation devotion and a notion of repressed sexuality the Victorian era 19th century was an increasingly hostile environment for women irrespective of race and African-American men Withstanding the disparities existing between Blacks and Whites during the late nineteenth century social and political reforms that succeeded in pervading American society were imminent In a bold attempt to deconstruct preexisting norms of society two women found the courage and strength to challenge the status quo White protestant males on the issues of race equality anti-lynching suffrage and womens rights One of the women Mary Church Terrell primarily advocated for Womens rights taking into consideration the question of race while Ida B Wells vehemently advocated against lynching and its implications on the Black and White communities and the issue of womens rights While both women have been described as genteel militants Ida B Wells in many respects is regarded as more militant than Mary Church Terrell in her forceful attacks on lynching Gentility is commonly associated with refinement and good manners especially manners that are thought typical of an upper-class background I will employ the definition of relating to the upper classes as I further discuss notions of gentility Encarta World English Dictionary On the other hand the word militant often refers to strong resistance or opposition to an adverse situation person or event and is commonly associated with activism Terrell was genteel given that she was part of the Black and White elite and was able to vacillate between both groups with ease Her decision to have a public life and fight for voting rights and found womens clubs for African-American women is a powerful indication of her resistance of prevalent social norms of the time Equally Wells should be viewed as a genteel given her profession as a teacher and journalist With such prestigious occupations Wells was also able
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