Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, MS on July 16th, 1862. That was during the the Civil War (1861-1865). She was born enslaved.
Wells saw the link between enslavement by humans and by alcohol. So she promoted the temperance movement.
In 1895, Ms. Wells married Ferdinand Lee Barnett. He published the first Black newspaper in Chicago. They remained married until she died 36 years later.
Wells was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs. It was a response to the following outrage.
In 1895, journalist James W. Jacks got a letter asking help to fight lynching. He replied as follows.
“The Negroes in this country are wholly devoid of morality. They know nothing of it except as they learn by being caught for flagrant violations of law and punished therefor… They consider it no disgrace but rather an honor to be sent to prison and to wear striped clothes. The women are prostitutes and all are natural liars and thieves….Out of 200 in this vicinity it is doubtful if there are a dozen virtuous women of that number who are not daily thieving from the white people.”
Ms. Wells made contributions to civil rights and to temperance. She died on March 25, 1931. It was in her adopted city of Chicago.
- Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells.
- Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death, the Story of His Life, Burning Human Beings Alive, Other Lynching Statistics.
- The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States.
- Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.
- Bay, Mia. To Tell the Truth Freely: The Life of Ida B. Wells. Hill and Wang, 2010.
- Giddings, Paula. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching. Harper, 2009.
Some of many tributes.
- 1989. Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice. (PBS documentary.)
- 1995. In Pursuit of Justice: A One-Woman Play About Ida B. Wells.
- 2002. Constant Star (Musical drama about Wells’ life.)