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*On this date, in 1865, Margaret Murray was born. She was a Black educator and club woman.
The child of a black woman and white father, she was from Macon, Mississippi. After the death of her father at the age of seven, Quakers took her in, and it was there that she received much guidance and education. She entered Fisk University in 1881 to become a teacher. Married to Booker T. Washington in 1893 (his third wife), she stood steadfastly beside him in making his dream of a great school (Tuskegee Institute) come true.
Murray joined the staff and became the dean of the woman’s department after one year. Murray-Washington was the director of the Girl’s institute at Tuskegee, which provided courses in laundering, cooking, dressmaking, sewing, millinery, and mattress making; skills that students were to use in maintaining healthy, efficient, and gracious homes.
Called "one of the greatest women of her century," Margaret Murray Washington spoke to national audiences as the first president of the National Federation of Colored Women's Clubs. But her greatest service came when she founded country schools, taught women how to live and attend to their homes, worked to improve prisons, started the Mt. Meigs school for boys and an industrial school for girls, and constantly worked for the betterment of the poor and neglected.
In 1896, she became vice president of the National Federation of Afro-American Women. Soon after, she became president of the Alabama Association of Women’s Clubs until she died in 1925. Murray-Washington was a woman of great compassion, intelligence, and independence of judgment. She became one of the greatest forces at Tuskegee and among Black leaders and thinkers in America.
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York