JULY 16, 1862–MARCH 25, 1931
Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862. She was an activist who spent her life fighting against racial and gender discrimination. She became a journalist after writing about her own lawsuit against a railroad for forcing her to leave a first-class train car because she was Black.
Wells is best known for her activism against lynching in the 1890s. Lynching is the killing of an individual by a mob operating outside of the law, a shameful practice through much of the history of the United States, most often driven by hateful racial prejudice. Wells reported on these terrible acts and exposed them as the crime they truly were: murder. Though white people threatened to hurt or kill her for what she was reporting, she continued her work because she felt it was needed to help bring justice to Black Americans.
Wells spent the rest of her life working as an advocate, especially for African American women. In 1913 she founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, a black women’s suffrage organization. She also helped form the National Association of Colored Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), two civil rights organizations still doing important work today. She died in 1931 at age 68.
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