Ida B. Wells | Suffragist & Civil Rights Trailblazer
- Name: Ida B. Wells
- Date of Birth: July 16, 1862
- Date of Death: March 25, 1931
- Place of Birth: Holly Springs, Mississippi
- Education: Fisk University and Lemoyne-Owen College,
- Ida was a writer and editor of Memphis’s Free Speech and Headlight. She eventually came to own 1/3 of the paper making her the only black woman of record to be an editor in chief and part owner of a major city newspaper.”
- Alongside Frederick Douglass and other black leaders, Ida helped organize a black boycott of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago for their failure to include exhibits that represented African-American culture.
- 71 years before Rosa Parks, Ida refused to give up her first class seat on a train in 1884. She was dragged off the train and would eventually sue the railroad for her treatment. Later that year, she won her case and was granted a $500 award.
More About Ida B. WellsIda criticized Susan B. Anthony herself for “expediency” in not standing against segregation. In January 1913, she founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first such group for black women in Illinois. She married Ferdinand Barnett in 1895, and managed to continue her activities while having a family. In 1896, the Republican Women’s State Central Committee wanted the still-nursing Wells to travel and campaign for them across Illinois. To make the journey possible, they arranged for volunteers to take care of her firstborn everywhere she went. Wells went on to have three more children, and would step back from some of her work in order to have more time for her family. But she’d demonstrated that combining marriage, children and a career wasn’t impossible — and as she noted in her autobiography, which she started writing in 1928, “I honestly believe that I am the only woman in the United States who ever traveled throughout the country with a nursing baby to make political speeches.”
“Ida B. Wells demonstrated that combining marriage, children and a career wasn’t impossible”