Carrie Williams Clifford

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Carrie Williams Clifford (1862 in Chillicothe, Ohio – 1934) was an author and activist in the women's rights and civil rights movements in the United States.[1]


Raised and educated in Ohio, Clifford married Ohio state legislator William H. Clifford and founded the Minerva Reading Club, which engaged in literary and cultural activities, and gave members access to a forum for personal development and discussion of current social problems. At the turn of the century, Clifford was involved in the National Association of Colored Women, and she formed the Ohio Federation of Colored Women's Clubs in 1900 and served as the organization's first president while she lived in Cleveland. She was editor of the women's department of the Cleveland Journal, a black newspaper.[2]

Clifford's and her family moved to Washington D.C. around 1910, where she maintained friendships with W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and Alain Locke, and hosted regular Sunday evening gatherings with persons such as Mary Church Terrell, William L. Hunt, Amanda Hilyer, Harry T. Burleigh, and Will Marion Cook.

Clifford was also a participant in the Niagara Movement, the predecessor to the NAACP, and was a leader in the NAACP when it was established.

She died in 1934 and was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.[3]



Clifford prefaced her book Race Rhymes by stating:

The author makes no claim to unusual poetic excellence or literary brilliance. She is seeking to call attention to a condition, which she, at least, considers serious. Knowing that this may often be done more impressively through rhyme that in an elegant prose, she has take this method to accomplish this end... The theme of the group here presented—the uplift of humanity—is the loftiest that can animate the heart and pen of man: the treatment, she trusts, is not wholly unworthy...she send these lines forth with the prayer that they may change some heart, or right some wrong.
  • Race Rhymes, Printed by R. L. Pendleton, Washington, D.C.: 1911.
  • The Widening Light, Walter Reid Co., Boston MA: 1922.


  • "Brothers." Opportunity. 1925
  • "Lines to Garrison." Alexander’s Magazine 1 (1906–1907): 8–9.
  • "Love’s Way (A Christmas Story)." Alexander’s Magazine 1 (1906–1907): 55–58.
  • "Votes for Children." Crisis 10 (August 1915): 185.


  • "Cleveland and its Colored People" (1905)
  • (edited) Sowing for Others to Reap, Charles Alexander, Boston MA, 1900[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Diane L. Mohr, Carrie Williams Clifford, Writer, editor, women’s and civil rights activist 1862-1934, Black Renaissance in Washington, 1920-1930s (accessed 19 Feb 2014)
  2. ^ Danita Harris, "Cleveland's Black History: Carrie Williams Clifford, Orator, poet and activist" Archived February 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine ABC- Newsnet 5, Feb 14, 2014 (accessed 19 Feb 2014)
  3. ^ "Clifford, Carrie Williams". The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. November 25, 2008. Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  4. ^ facsimile of Sowing for Others to Reap at (accessed 19 Feb 2014)


  • Wilson, Rosemary Clifford, Introduction to Clifford, Carrie W., The Widening Light. Walter Reid Co., Boston, 1922.
  • Kerlin, Robert, Negro Poets and Their Poems. Associate Publishers, Washington, D.C., 1923.
  • Carter, Linda M., Notable Black American Women, Book II. Gale Research Inc., Detroit, 1996.
  • Roses, Lorraine Eleana and Randolph, Ruth Elizabeth (eds.), Harlem’s Glory: Black Women Writing, 1900-1950. Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1996.
  • Roses, Lorraine, Black Women in America.

External links[edit]