By: Lexi M
Born and raised into slavery, a young girl who doesn’t understand what a normal life should be, ends up being one of the best leaders in the civil rights movement. Ida B. Wells, was born in Holly Springs Mississippi, on July 6th, 1862. As the eldest daughter of two (James and Lizzie Wells), she eventually earned her freedom shortly after her birth. Growing up, Ida always knew one thing, family is important. She learned that you have to hold onto them and protect as long as you can, because sometime, one day, they won’t be there. Even after Ida and her family were freed, it wasn’t the end. They faced a multitude of racial offense throughout their lives, and this is how it all started.
James Wells, Ida’s father, had strong opinions towards African American rights. He was involved in many groups that stood up for African American freedom. In the beginning, these groups weren't to start riots, they were originated to tell children the truth about the world they lived in. Because of James, Ida became inspired. Ida soon went to a school for newly freed slaves. Sadly, she shortly dropped out because her parents, and one of her siblings, passed due to the worldwide disease, “Yellow Fever”. After this unexpected tragedy, Ida was motivated to take care of her siblings on her own.Years had passed, and Ida had decided to go back to school. She convinced a nearby country college that she was 18 years old (16 at the time), and they let her in. After raising her siblings, juggling through school, and being filled with stress, she had finally finished her schooling. Ida soon became a teacher in 1882, and moved to Memphis, Tennessee to live with her aunt because her brothers found work there as well. Everything was going “alright” for Ida and her family. Until one little train ride changed everything.
Ida was coming home one night, with her 1st class ticket. When instantly, she was rudely asked to leave her seat, and Ida made one of the most independent and inspiring things an African American could ever do. She refused. Ida was removed from the train with with her head held high, and later sued the railroad with a winning $500. All went good, until unexpectedly the decision was overturned by the Supreme Court. This event was important because if this didn’t happen Ida might not have ever been the woman she is known as today. This event encouraged Ida to pick up her pen, and right about equal rights, and how life should be. Ida ended up publishing her words in the “Black Newspapers.”
Ida ended up working as a Journalist and Publisher. She soon became the owner of “The Memphis Free Speech and Headlights”, and later on “The Free Speech”. As important as her writing meant to her, she still loved children. Ida took a job as a teacher in a segregated middle school, and became a vocal critic as well. Unfortunately, she was fired because of her speakings. As devastating as this was, Ida began to write again after her friends were murdered by a group of people (KKK). Many more African Americans were killed for wrongful reasons, and no one was interested in doing anything about it. The more and more people that were getting hurt the more and more Ida wanted to write. Risking her life, Ida took a trip for two weeks in the south researching more deaths to write about. Because of Ida’s decision, a white mob became angered and trashed/violate their equipment, newspapers, etc. Luckily, Wells was not in at the time, or things could have gone differently. Threats had been made that if Ida were ever to return to Memphis, she would be murdered.
More years had passed, and Ida had moved to the north and more motivated for success. She researched more everyday, and eventually made a campaign (which she brought to the white house). She gained a huge career in the civil right's movement after this. Then, she formed the NACW (National Association of Colored Women). Well’s soon decided the women's suffrage was also a huge problem, and it wasn’t just African Americans who struggled at this time. Ida took a charge in her life. She never gave up on teaching, and soon became a principle, she lived her life to the fullest. Wells got married, and had her four children. Ida B. Wells lived her life to the fullest, and she never stopped fighting for what she believed in. Sadly, Ida B. Wells passed due to a kidney disease in Chicago, Illinois in 1931. Even after her death, Ida B. Wells left a forever impact on Women's Suffrage, and the Civil Rights Movement. She will forever be remembered as a fighter who never backed down. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of the truth upon them”.
Ms.Backstrom's class has been working on creative writing pieces based around 'big question' research. Take a look at what they've come up with!