Ida B. Wells

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalistnewspaper editor and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites. She was active in the 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.

Throughout her life Wells was militant in her demands for equality and justice for African-Americans and insisted that the African-American community win justice through its own efforts. Since her death, interest in her life and legacy has only grown. Her life is the subject of a widely performed musical drama, which debuted in 2006, by Tazewell ThompsonConstant Star.[33] The play sums her up:

…A woman born in slavery, she would grow to become one of the great pioneer activists of the Civil Rights movement. A precursor of Rosa Parks, she was a suffragistnewspaper editor and publisher, investigative journalist, co-founder of the NAACP, political candidate, mother, wife, and the single most powerful leader in the anti-lynching campaign in America. A dynamic, controversial, temperamental, uncompromising race woman, she broke bread and crossed swords with some of the movers and shakers of her time: Frederick DouglassSusan B. AnthonyMarcus GarveyBooker T. WashingtonW. E. B. Du BoisFrances Willard, and President McKinley. By any fair assessment, she was a seminal figure in Post-Reconstruction America.

 

On February 1, 1990, the United States Postal Service issued a 25 cent postage stamp in her honor.[34] In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante listed Wells on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.[35]

In 1941, the WPA built the Ida B. Wells Homes in Chicago. The buildings were demolished in August 2011.

Ida B. Wells