Ida Wells-Barnett and Lynch Laws.
Ida Wells-Barnett was born in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi to slave par-ents and in her sixty-nine years of life, accomplished a great many things.
Remembered as the legendary anti-lynching crusader and militant journalist, she became a teacher at the young age of fourteen to support her siblings after the loss of their parents to the yellow fever epidemic. With the termination of her em-ployment at the public school, Wells-Barnett began her journalism career, eventually, in 1892, becoming editor and partial owner of the Memphis Free Speech. This was also the year three of her male friends were lynch, which lead to her meticulous in-vestigation and reporting of the incidents. It was this determined inquisition that caused her to become "the person most responsible at the turn of the century for enlightening the nation and the world about the powerful connection between lynch-ing, patriarchy, racism, and cultural notions of white womanhood and black sexuality" (Word of Fire, 1995, 69).
In 1893 Chicago, Wells-Barnett founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first black woman suffrage group. The goal she wished to accomplish by educating the world about lynching was to make it a Federal crime, where the Fed-eral government, not the state government, would be responsible for punishing those "vigilantes" hunting down helpless African Americans and murdering them in heinous ways (Words of Fire, 1995).
Ida Wells-Barnett's speech Lynch Laws in America is a well-written, com-posed, sophisticated attack at those participating in lynching. Her position regarding lynching is made clear throughout her speech: she is against it. And she criticizes the "unwritten law" of lynching in a manner that reflects her educated background.
Wells-Barnett's word usage was perfect in that she wrote her speech in such a way that she shows her intelligence, yet does...