Born a slave in 1862, educated by The Freedmen’s Aid during the era of reconstruction Ida B. Wells had a thirst for knowledge and a hunger to communicate with her people. Orphaned at sixteen her parents and a sibling died during an outbreak of yellow fever. Ida B. Wells was thrown into adulthood at fourteen.
With youthful idealism and determination Wells taught school, raised her siblings, and fell into her lifelong career as a journalist. Two particular incidents propelled Ida B. Wells to use her pen as a sword. The first was the public humiliation she endured when she faced violent racial discrimination on a train car. Second, The People’s Grocery Company.
Thomas Moss, when asked if he had anything to say, “tell my people to go West-there is no justice for them here.”
She continued to write. In 1893, Ida B. Wells wrote a pamphlet on the realities of black life in America and distributed Columbian Exposition. This event was also known as the world’s fair, held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. The pamphlet was appropriately titled, “The Reason Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition.” Check it out. Click here.
*Photos from Crusade for Justice, Ida B. Wells Edited by Alfreda M. Duster. 1970.