Ida B. Wells

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” —Ida B. Wells

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (born into slavery on July 16, 1862 – died March 25, 1931), more commonly known as Ida B. Wells, was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.

{Born into slavery, but} later as an activist, Wells documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s, showing that it was often used in the South as a way to control or punish black people who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by black people, as was usually claimed by whites. She was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician and traveled internationally on lecture tours. (Wikipedia)

Seventy years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Ida refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a train and was thrown off the train by a group of white men. She later sued the railroad, though she did not win. Beyond being a groundbreaking journalist and activist, she was a thoroughly modern wife and mother. Not only did she postpone her wedding three times in order to keep up with her rigorous antilynching speaking schedule, but once she had babies, she would bring them along with her. In her own words: “I honestly believe I am the only woman in the United States who ever traveled throughout the country with a nursing baby to make political speeches.”

For more reading on Ida, check out her biography.com page or this book, A Sword Among Lions.

2 Replies to “Ida B. Wells”

  1. Love this Allison! What a beautiful way to use your gift. So love reading about women and the strength they carried to fight for what they believed so passionately about!

    1. Thanks so much, Shannon. I just kept painting them and reading stories, seemed to snowball into something else. So we’ll see where it goes? Thank you for your words!

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