Black History

In the Spotlight #6 – Ida B. Wells


I came across Ida B. Wells while researching for my dissertation. Her impact in the late 19th and early 20th century made me stop and read her biography.

Born 16th July 1862, Wells was an African-American nationally and internationally known as an outspoken journalist and newspaper editor writing the realities of African-American attacks, especially lynching in the South. She also was a women’s right activist establishing several notable women’s organisations.

As Wells grew older, she acknowledged that there were segregated schools for black and white children in the South. She landed in a job as a teacher to support her siblings as her parents and her young brother had died from an outbreak of yellow fever. There, she noticed white teachers were paid more than she was on the grounds of her colour and it was this kind of political discrimination that sparked her interest in improving the education of blacks.

Some years later, after returning home from one of her campaigns Wells found her friend and businessman lynched, along with two other men. The reason? Because their business was more successful than their white counterparts and those three black men wanted to protect what they’d build. Wells was moved to research and keep records of lynching and their causes. She, in fact, officially started an anti-lynching campaign against lynch mobs in the South. After years of researching, her articles were published in the New York Age newspaper. As this problem was becoming more acknowledged, more black leaders joined in and helped organise many campaigns.

Well’s documented many provoking images of the realities of black people during her life time. Her articles even reached England where she gained international recognition with her anti-lynching campaigns.



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