➊ Ida B Wells Lynching
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Parts of Tennessee are no place for blacks to Mess around in. Klan country is what they call it.
Ida B. Wells was enslaved from her birth on July 16, , in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She was the eldest of eight children. Following the end of the Civil War , her father, who as an enslaved person had been the carpenter on a plantation, was active in Reconstruction period politics in Mississippi. When Ida was young she was educated in a local school, though her education was interrupted when both her parents died in a yellow fever epidemic when she was She had to take care of her siblings, and she moved with them to Memphis, Tennessee, to live with an aunt.
In Memphis, Wells found work as a teacher. And she resolved to become an activist when, on May 4, , she was ordered to leave her seat on a streetcar and move to a segregated car. She refused and was ejected from the train. She began to write about her experiences, and became affiliated with The Living Way, a newspaper published by African Americans. In she became the co-owner of a small newspaper for African Americans in Memphis, the Free Speech. The horrendous practice of lynching had become widespread in the South in the decades following the Civil War. And it hit home for Ida B. Wells in March when three young African American businessmen she knew in Memphis were abducted by a mob and murdered. Wells resolved to document the lynchings in the South, and to speak out in hopes of ending the practice.
She began advocating for the Black citizens of Memphis to move to the West, and she urged boycotts of segregated streetcars. By challenging the white power structure, she became a target. And in May the office of her newspaper, the Free Speech, was attacked by a white mob and burned. She continued her work documenting lynchings. She traveled to England in and , and spoke at many public meetings about the conditions in the American South. In , the Barnetts bought the first house east of State Street to be owned by a Black family. Despite harassment and threats, they continued to live in the neighborhood. Wells-Barnett was a founding member of the NAACP in , but withdrew because of opposition to her membership and because she felt the other members were too cautious in their approach to fighting racial injustice.
Du Bois "believed that Wells' ideas made the fight for the rights of Black people more difficult," Fabiny wrote, adding that many of the founding members of the NAACP, who were mostly men, "did not want a woman to have as much power as they did. In her writing and lectures, Wells-Barnett often criticized middle-class Black people, including ministers, for not being active enough in helping the poor in the Black community. Indeed, Wells-Barnett was one of the first to call attention to the intersectionality between race and class, and her writings and lectures influenced the way race and class were considered moving forward by generations of thinkers, such as Angela Davis.
In , Wells-Barnett helped found and became president of the Negro Fellowship League, which established a settlement house in Chicago to serve the many Black people newly arrived from the South. She worked for the city as a probation officer from to , donating most of her salary to the organization. But with competition from other groups, the election of a racist city administration, and Wells-Barnett's poor health, the league closed its doors in In , Wells-Barnett organized the Alpha Suffrage League, an organization of Black women supporting women's suffrage.
She was active in protesting the strategy of the National American Woman Suffrage Association , the largest pro-suffrage group, regarding the participation of Black people and how the group treated racial issues. The NAWSA generally made the participation of Black people invisible—even while claiming that no Black women had applied for membership—so as to try to win votes for suffrage in the South. By forming the Alpha Suffrage League, Wells-Barnett made clear that the exclusion was deliberate, and that Black people did support women's suffrage, even knowing that other laws and practices that barred Black men from voting would also affect women. A major suffrage demonstration in Washington, D. Many Black suffragists, like Mary Church Terrell , agreed for strategic reasons after initial attempts to change the minds of the leadership—but not Wells-Barnett.
She inserted herself into the march with the Illinois delegation, and the delegation welcomed her. The leadership of the march simply ignored her action. Also in , Wells-Barnett was part of a delegation to see President Wilson to urge non-discrimination in federal jobs. She was elected as chair of the Chicago Equal Rights League in , and in organized legal aid for victims of the Chicago race riots of In , she was part of the successful election campaign that led to Oscar Stanton De Priest becoming the first Black alderperson in the city.
She was also part of founding the first kindergarten for Black children in Chicago. In , Wells was one of the first Black women to run for public office when she ran for a seat on the Illinois State Senate as an independent. Though she came in third, Wells opened the door for future generations of Black women, 75 of whom have served in the U. House of Representatives, and dozens who have served in state leadership positions and as mayors of major cities throughout the U.
Wells-Barnett died in in Chicago, largely unappreciated and unknown, but the city later recognized her activism by naming a housing project in her honor. The Ida B. Wells Homes, in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, included rowhouses, mid-rise apartments, and some high-rise apartments. Because of the housing patterns of the city, these were occupied primarily by Black people. Completed from to , and initially a successful program, over time, neglect, "government ownership and management, and a collapse of the original idea that the rents of low-income tenants could support the physical maintenance of the project" led to their decay, including gang problems, according to Howard Husock, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writing in the Washington Examiner in a May 13, , article.
Although anti-lynching was her main focus, and Wells-Barnett shined a light on this important racial justice issue, she never achieved her goal of federal anti-lynching legislation. However, she inspired generations of legislators to try to achieve her goal. Though there have been more than unsuccessful attempts to pass a federal anti-lynching law, Wells-Barnett's efforts may soon pay off. Senate passed an anti-lynching bill in by unanimous consent—where all senators voted to express support of the bill—and a similar anti-lynching measure passed the House by a vote of to four in favor in February And, in that second attempt, Republican Sen.
Rand Paul of Kentucky opposed the legislation in a contentious debate on the Senate floor in early June , and thus held up the bill. Her autobiography, titled "Crusade for Justice," on which she worked in her later years, was published posthumously in , edited by her daughter Alfreda M. Her home in Chicago is a National Historic Landmark and is under private ownership. In , the U. Postal Service issued the Ida B. Wells stamp. In , Wells-Barnett was awarded the Pulitzer Prize "for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching.
One of the more recent known examples is the February murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man in Georgia. While on a jog, Arbery was stalked, assaulted, and shot to death by three White men. Feimster, Crystal N. Wells and the Lynching of Black Women. Seguin, Charles and Rigby, David. A scrap broke out and the three black men were ultimately arrested. The three were taken a mile or so outside of town where they were shot to death. One of them had his eyes gouged out. Wells was appalled by the murder of her friend. She encouraged the black residents of Memphis to leave the city and denounced the lawlessness. Wells wrote:. The City of Memphis has demonstrated that neither character nor standing avails the Negro if he dares to protect himself against the white man or become his rival.
There is nothing we can do about the lynching now, as we are outnumbered and without arms. The white mob could help itself to ammunition without pay, but the order was rigidly enforced against the selling of guns to Negroes. There is therefore only one thing left that we can do; save our money and leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons.
In she published the pamphlet Southern Horrors in which she debunked a common rationalization for lynchings, the idea that they were a justified response to the rape of white women by black men. Wells boldly published her findings in the Free Speech newspaper, which resulted in significant white backlash. While she was in the northeast, Wells received word that a white mob, enraged by her denouncement of lynching, had broken into her paper and set its offices on fire.
In the book, Wells expanded on her previous work, ultimately researching over lynchings from the previous decade. In the space of three years, Wells had become the leading voice in the crusade against lynching. You have done your people and mine a service…If American conscience were only half alive, if the church and the clergy were only half Christianized, if American moral sensibility were not hardened…a scream of horror, shame, and indignation would rise to Heaven wherever your pamphlet shall be read.
Although she worked with white suffragists to that end, she found their silence on the horrors of lynching to be a betrayal of their belief in equality and justice for all.Jun 11th, Wells and the Lynching of Black Women. Malanga, Ida B Wells Lynching, et al. She Unit 5 P4 Measure Performance advocating for the Black citizens of Memphis to Substance Abuse Case Study Essay Ida B Wells Lynching the West, and she urged Ida B Wells Lynching of segregated streetcars. In Memphis, Wells found work as a teacher.