Wells Wrote For Activism

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This is an image if Ida B. wells. Ida B wells was a journalist, activist, and researcher who accomplished many things such as leading an anti-lynching campaign and forming The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Valeria Garcia Alcala, Reporter

Ida B. Wells was a prominent journalist, activist, and researcher, who battled sexism, racism, and violence and used her skills to show the conditions of African Americans in the south.

According to the Women’s History website, Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16th 1892. Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War, but when the war ended, her parents became politically active in Reconstruction Era politics. From a young age, Wells’ parents taught her the importance of education, and when the yellow fever pandemic hit, it took both her parents and infant brother. She was forced to become a teacher to keep the rest of her family together. Wells doesn’t remember being enslaved but heard and saw scars and stories of her parents reported the Women’s History website.

“Ida B. Wells was not yet three when the Civil War ended and slavery was abolished, so she had no personal memory of being enslaved,” The New York Historical Society reported. “But she heard her parents’ stories and saw the scars on her mother’s back from beatings she had suffered. Slavery was a stark reality for Ida, but her own childhood was spent in, and shaped by, Reconstruction.”

According to the National Park Service website, Wells attended Rust College to receive early education but sadly had to drop out at the age of 16 as stated by nps.gov. In 1882, Wells continued her education in Risk University in Nashville.

“She convinced a nearby school administrator that she was 18, and landed a job as teacher to take care of her siblings,” the National Park Service website said. “In 1882, Wells moved with her sisters to Memphis, Tennessee to live with their aunt. Her brothers found work as carpentry apprentices, and for a time, Wells continued her education at Fisk University in Nashville.”

In May 1884, Wells bought a first-class ticket, but when she arrived at the train, the train crew forced her to move to the car for African Americans. Wells refused before being forcibly removed from the train reported the National Park Service website. Wells sued the railroad and won a $500 settlement, but this decision was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. After this issue occurred, Wells began writing about race and politics using the name Lola, and she had a number of her articles published in the south. In 1892, Wells began her interest in anti-lynching after a friend and two of his associates were murdered reported the National Park Service website.

“Wells wrote articles decrying the lynching and risked her own life traveling the South to gather information on other lynchings,” the National Park Service website reported.. “A mob stormed her newspaper office and destroyed all of her equipment. She stayed in the North after her life was threatened and wrote an in-depth report on lynching in America for the New York Age. This was a newspaper run by T. Thomas Fortune, a former slave.”

According to the National Park Service website, Ida B. Wells was a journalist, activist and researcher who accomplished and did many things in her lifetime such as bringing her anti-lynching campaign to the White House in 1898, writing many articles and establishing many civil rights organization.

“In 1896, she formed the National Association of Colored Women,” Biography’s website said. “Wells is also considered a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).”

Wells married Ferdinand Barnett in 1895 and had four children with him, and she is one of the only women that kept her maiden name, the National Park Service website reported. Unfortunately on March 25, 1931, Wells died of kidney disease in Chicago leaving behind a legacy of social and political activism. Eighty-nine years after her death, Wells was awarded a Pulitzer Prize “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching” reported the National Park Service website.