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Genially about journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells

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Ida B. Wells


Wells joined other Black leaders in 1893 in calling for a boycott of the World’s Columbian Exposition. The boycotters accused the exposition committee of excluding Black Americans and negatively portraying the Black community. Wells married well-known lawyer Ferdinand Barnett in 1895, and they had four children together.

Wells filed a lawsuit against a train company in 1884 after she was thrown off a first-class train despite having a ticket. She won the case in local court, but the federal courts overturned the ruling. Then, after one of her friends was lynched, Wells focused on white mob violence. Suspicious about why black men were lynched, she investigated several cases. She published her findings and wrote in local newspapers, but a piece she wrote in 1892 about lynchings enraged the locals in Memphis. She was forced to move to Chicago after threats against her escalated.

Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War on July 16th, 1862. Her parents became politically active after the war, and emphasized the importance of education. Wells enrolled in Rust College but was expelled after she started a dispute with the university president. In 1878, yellow fever hit her hometown and her parents and infant brother died. Wells took a job as a teacher so she could raise her surviving brothers and sister.

Wells-Barnett traveled internationally and spoke about lynching to foreign audiences. She openly confronted white women in the women’s suffrage movement who ignored lynching, and as a result she was often ostracized. However, she remained involved in the women’s rights movement. Wells-Barnett was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club which dealt with issues of civil rights and women’s suffrage. She was present in Niagara Falls for the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) but unfortunately she is not listed as an official founder. Wells-Barnett died in March of 1931.

Little, Becky. “When Ida B. Wells Took on Lynching, Threats Forced Her to Leave Memphis.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2 Aug. 2018, www.history.com/news/ida-b-wells-lynching-memphis-chicago.