Ida B. Wells

Essay by ShellBell06213 September 2004

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Ida B. Wells was a newspaper editor, a journalist, suffragist, women's rights advocate, and speaker who lead the crusade for justice against lynching. She was born on July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Ida was born a month before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery. Ida was the eldest of eight children born to slaves. Her parents supported them because her mother was a famous cook and her father was a carpenter. At age fourteen an epidemic of yellow fever killed her parents, she was left to care for her siblings. Ida always had a passion for teaching. She began earning money for teaching to help care for her siblings. Although she was experiencing hardships Ida continued her studies at Rust University and earned her degree in teaching. She then moved to Memphis with her aunt to seek help with caring for her siblings. Ida's fight for justice began when she was forcibly removed from her seat on the train for refusing to move to the colored section, while she was attending classes at Fisk University.

In her autobiography, Wells wrote "I refused to move to the car closest to the locomotive. When he tried to drag me out I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand and braced my feet against the seat in front and held on to the back". She explained how he got the baggage man to help him and they dragged her out of the seat and forcefully removed her from he train. She remembered how all the white passengers applauded. She hired an attorney and sued the railroad, won her case however the railroad company appealed and the ruling was overturned. She started taking journalism classes and began writing articles addressing the racial injustices toward African Americans. She...