Ida B Wells: Fighting For Racial And Gender Equality

3938 words - 16 pages

Ida B. Wells was born in 1862 in Holly Springs Mississippi to Elizabeth and James Wells. She is famous for her campaign against lynching. Ida set an example for all African – Americans to stand up for their rights in the late 1800’s. Through her tireless work on exposing the horrors of lynching, she almost single-handedly attacked and kicked off the beginning of the civil right movement and without her; there would have been a delayed start to the basic rights for African – Americans (man or woman). Eventually, her work inspired the feeling that every American can and must exercise their Civil Rights and responsibilities to make our country a better or more equal place to live.
Ida B. Wells had a rough childhood. Her parents were enslaved before the Civil War, but still made ends meet as her mother worked as a cook and her father worked as a skilled carpenter. Ida was the eldest of eight children. When a yellow fever epidemic swept through Holly Springs taking the lives of Ida’s mother, father and baby brother Stanley, but fortunately for Ida her parents gave her very good leadership skills which she used to keep and manage the rest of her six younger siblings after her parent’s death. She obtained a job as a schoolteacher where the local African – Americans attended. With this job she was able to put food on the table working for $25.00 a month. She then moved to Memphis Tennessee for a higher paying job while being taken care of by her Aunt Fannie and friends and other family took care of her younger siblings.
While Ida was in Memphis she began to fight for gender and racial justice. While Ida was on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company Train she was asked by the conductor to move to the “Jim Crow” car which was essentially the African – American coach and to give up her seat to a fellow white man, she refused to give up her seat and stated that she paid for a first class ticket. She felt she did not have to move. She was then dragged off the car. Once Ida got in contact with the courts she sued the railroad for $500 and won the case. Unfortunately, the higher courts overturned the verdict and Ida had to pay back the entire $500 plus court costs!
That was when she encountered what is known as the ‘Lynching at the Curve” and the start of the anti-lynching campaign. Ida had three friends who all lived in Memphis, Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Henry Stewart, who were lynched in March 1892 while Ida was out of town in Natchez Mississippi. These three business men owned People’s Grocery Company which was a neighbor of a white man’s grocery store. People’s Grocery Company had taken away costumers from the other grocery store because of better quality. A group of white men attacked Thomas, Calvin, and Henry to get rid of the competition, but the three African Americans fought back by shooting one of the angry white men. The three were arrested and taken to jail. Later a lynch mob which consisted of the white man’s grocery store mob...

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