July 16, 1862
Holly Springs, Mississippi
March 25, 1931 (aged 68)
Freedman's School, Rust College, Fisk University
Civil rights & Women's rights activist
Ferdinand L. Barnett
James Wells and Elizabeth "Izzy Bell" Warrenton
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalist, newspaper 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.
[hide] 1 Life
2 Marriage and family
3 Later public career
5 Willard controversy
6 Writings (Southern Horrors and The Red Record)
7 Rhetorical style and effect
8 Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, just before President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Her father James Wells was a carpenter and her mother was Elizabeth "Lizzie" Warrenton Wells. Both parents were enslaved until freed under the Proclamation, one year after she was born.
Ida’s father James was a master at carpentry and known as a "race man", someone who worked for the advancement of blacks. He was very interested in politics, and was a member of the Loyal League. He attended public speeches and campaigned for local black candidates, but he never ran for office. Her mother Elizabeth was a cook for the Bolling household before her death from yellow fever. She was a religious woman who was very strict with her children. Wells' parents took their children's education very seriously. They wanted their children to take advantage of having the opportunity to be educated and attend school.
Wells attended a school for freed people called Shaw University, now Rust College in Holly Springs. She was expelled from the college for her rebellious behavior and temper after confronting the president of the college. While visiting her grandmother in the Mississippi Valley in 1878, she received word that her hometown of Holly Springs had suffered a yellow fever epidemic. At the age of 16, she lost both her parents and her 10-month old brother, Stanley, the youngest. The 1878 epidemic swept through the South with many fatalities.
Following the funerals, friends and relatives decided that the six remaining Wells children should be sent to various foster homes. Wells resisted this solution. To keep her younger siblings together as a family, she dropped out of Rust College and found work as a teacher in a black elementary school. (The schools were racially segregated.) Her grandmother Peggy Wells, along with other friends and relatives, stayed with the children during the week while she was away teaching. Without this help, she would have not been able to keep her siblings together. She resented that white teachers were paid $80 a month in public schools when she was paid only $30 a month. This discrimination made her more interested in the politics of race and improving the education of blacks.
In 1883, Wells took three of her younger siblings to Memphis, Tennessee, to live with her aunt and to be closer to other family members. She found she could earn higher wages there as a teacher. Soon after moving, she was hired in Woodstock for the Shelby County school system. During her summer vacations, she attended summer sessions at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville;...
On May 4, 1884, a train conductor Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad ordered Wells to give up her seat and move to the smoking car, which was already crowded with other passengers
In 1892 she published a pamphlet titled Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, and A Red Record, 1892–1894, which documented research on a lynching
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