Ida B. Wells
Discovering History's Heroes
Jeter Publishing presents a brand-new series that celebrates men and women who altered the course of history but may not be as well-known as their counterparts.
Ida B. Wells was an African-American journalist and activist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s.
On one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884, Wells reached a personal turning point. Having bought a first-class train ticket, she was outraged when the train crew ordered her to move to the car for African Americans. She refused and was forcibly removed from the train—but not before she bit one of the men on the hand. Wells sued the railroad, winning a $500 settlement. However, the decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.
This injustice led Ida B. Wells to pick up a pen to write about issues of race and politics in the South. Using the moniker “Iola,” a number of her articles were published in black newspapers and periodicals. Wells eventually became an owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and, later, of the Free Speech.
She even took on the subject of lynching, and in 1898, Wells brought her anti-lynching campaign to the White House, leading a protest in Washington, DC, and calling for President William McKinley to make reforms.
Ida B. Wells never backed down in the fight for justice.