Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born into slavery on July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Wells is noted as a civil rights leader, journalist, newspaper editor and suffragist. She recorded lynching of Blacks in America and was a leader of an anti-lynching crusade in the United States. She perhaps did more to publicize the horrors of lynchings nationally and internationally than any other person in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her speeches and writings that illustrated the racial truth behind lynchings recruited supporters from around the world to champion it's end. Ironically on May 4, 1884, 71 years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a young Wells would not give up her seat on a train ride from Memphis to Woodstock, Tennessee, when a conductor with the railway demanded she move from the first-class ladies car to the smoking car. She was dragged out of the car by the conductor and two other men. Wells sued the Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern Railway and was rewarded $500 by the local circuit court. The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the lower courts decision. This incident was an indication of the spirit of racial dignity that would be demanded by Wells for herself and all African Americans the remainder of her life. She died on March 25, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois at age 68.
Words That Matter
Ida B. Wells
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
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