Ida B. Wells is a hero to those who seek racial and gender equality. Her groundbreaking reporting and unwavering activism paved the way for subsequent campaigns for civil rights. Her life and writings are powerful examples of the importance of truth in the fight for justice.
Ida B. Wells was a writer and civil rights activist who persistently used her writing skills to bring attention to the pervasive problem of racism in the United States in the decades following the Civil War. Her bold fight against lynching and tireless campaign for women's suffrage cement her place in American history as a transformative figure.
Wells was born into slavery in Mississippi in 1862 and was released by the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War. His early life was marked by encounters with injustice. After losing both parents to the yellow fever pandemic, young Wells assumed responsibility for her younger siblings and became a teacher to provide for them.
She became politically active after experiencing racial prejudice firsthand on a train, where she was ejected from a "whites-only" car despite having a first-class ticket. She took the train corporation to court and won at first, but the state's highest court ultimately reversed the verdict.
Wells pursued journalism as a profession and eventually became the paper's co-owner and editor for Memphis' Free Speech and Headlight. Here, she bravely began her research and documentation of lynching instances, shedding light on a form of racial violence that is typically overlooked or distorted in the media.
Her unwavering reporting provoked angry mobs who tore down her printing equipment. Wells moved to Chicago and kept at it, publishing in the New York Age and elsewhere.
Her fervent crusade against lynching is widely regarded as her most important legacy. Wells spent her entire life researching and bringing attention to lynchings in the United States. Her ground-breaking publications, such as "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases," sparked a movement to end lynching across the country and around the world.
Wells was also a major figure in the fight for women's suffrage and the civil rights movement. She was a co-founder of the NAACP and the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, both of which worked to end lynching and advance women's rights.
Wells will be remembered for his bravery as a journalist and as a champion for civil rights. The Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum is housed in the house where she was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. A boulevard in Chicago bears her name, and in her honor, the Ida B. Wells Fellowship was established to provide financial assistance to women and people of color who are working in investigative journalism.
She was honored with a posthumous Pulitzer Prize special commendation in 2020 for her fearless and eloquent coverage of lynching and other acts of brutality against African Americans.