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Wed, 10.22.1941

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn, Professor born

Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

*Rosalyn Terborg-Penn was born on this date in 1941.  She was a Black professor of history and author.  

Born Rosalyn Marian Terborg in Brooklyn, New York. Her mother, Jeanne Terborg, was a clerical worker from Indianapolis, and her father, Jacques A. Terborg, was a Suriname-born jazz musician.  In 1951 her family moved to Queens, where she graduated from John Adams High School in 1959. In 1963 she received a degree in history from Queens College, City University of New York.  While at Queens College, she was a charter of the NAACP chapter. Terborg-Penn headed a protest on campus when the school would not let Malcolm X speak. She also organized student road trips, including a trip to Prince Edward County, Virginia, where schools were closed by anti-racial integration school officials.

While there, Terborg-Penn and other students taught black students. Upon moving to Washington, D.C., to attend George Washington University, she joined the D.C. Students for Civil Rights group and lobbied for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Terborg-Penn moved to Washington, D.C., earning her master's degree in United States diplomatic history from George Washington University. Terborg-Penn obtained her Ph.D. in African American history in 1965 from Howard University.   

In 1969 Terborg-Penn began teaching at Morgan State University.  She developed the first Ph.D. program at MSU for history students.  She also was a faculty member at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and Howard Community College.  In 1977 she co-founded the Association of Black Women Historians and was the organization's first national director.   1998 she published African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920.

The work critiqued the history of women's suffrage in the United States for having erased the contributions of Black women and identified more than 120 Black women that had played roles in the fight for the vote but had been given little recognition.  The book argued that as the goals of black activists diverged from their white counterparts over issues of racial oppression, history was written with white women at the center. The work is considered a seminal work in African American women's history.  

She specialized in African American history and black women's history. Her book African American Women in the Struggle for the Vote, 1850-1920, was a ground-breaking work that recovered the histories of black women in the women's suffrage movement in the United States. She was a faculty member at Morgan State University.  Rosalyn Terborg-Penn died on December 25, 2018.

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