I is for Ida B Wells, Early Fighter Against Institutional Racism #AtoZ Challenge
Based on image originally from NAEMVZELXQV2iw–
I wish I had more room to tell the complete story of this extraordinary woman. She was intelligent, she was brave, she never gave up, despite many, many setbacks…
Ida B Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on July 16th, 1862, and died on March 25th 1931.
When she was 16 she was visiting her grandmother when she received information that both of her parents and her youngest brother had died in a yellow fever outbreak.
To save the family (6 other children) from being split up she went to work as a teacher in an elementary school. She resented the fact that she was only paid $30 whilst her white counterparts were paid $80 for exactly the same job – and this sparked a lifetime interest in suffrage, racial equality and improving the education of black people.
She moved to Memphis where teaching pay was better, and in her spare time attended two universities.
In 1884 a train conductor ordered her to give up her (paid for) seat in first class, and she refused – SEVENTY years before Rosa Parks did the same thing. She was dragged out and took the railroad to court – and won $500, which sadly she lost again on appeal, having to pay court costs.
She went on to become an activist, documenting lynching, showing it was often used as whites to control or punish black people who were in some way competing in business or otherwise with whites – and the usual excuses of ‘rapes’ or ‘criminal acts’ spurring the lynchings were in fact codswallop. (My word!)
As well as working in the Civil Rights Movement, she became prominent in the suffragist movement, establishing severable notable women’s organisations, and her ability with rhetoric earned her work as a journalist which she used as a mouthpiece for her contentious but entirely justified views.
An extraordinary woman indeed.
If you’d like to read about more extraordinary women, why not buy the book Reaching the Stars, Poems about Extraordinary Women and Girls, by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan – link below, press on book!
- Posted in: A-Z Challenge 2017 ♦ Extraordinary Women ♦ Liz Brownlee ♦ Poems ♦ Reaching the Stars ♦ Reaching the Stars Poems
- Tagged: Anti-Racist, Black Civil Rights, Emily Dickinson, Extraordinary Women, Ida B Wells, Jan Dean, Liz Brownlee, Michaela Morgan, Poems about extraordinary women and girls, Reaching the Stars, Suffragist, Women Journalist