Day 8 - 28 Love Letters to Black Women
This Black History Month, I am sharing 28 stories of Black women who shaped me and showed me the way towards liberation. Because Black women are often not cited for their ideas, I thought this would be one way to give flowers to those who influenced me.
On Day 8, I’d like to honor the legacy of investigative journalist and civil rights leader Ida B. Wells, who tirelessly worked to create visibility to the brutal realities of violence against Black people in America.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born enslaved by Spires Boling in Mississippi in 1862. After Emancipation, she went on to become a teacher and writer.
Ida was a FIRECRACKER, y’all. She was not afraid to share controversial truths or to stand up for what was right, even in the face of push back and harm. When she was in her twenties, she once refused to give up her seat in the first-class cabin on a train to a white person and was dragged off of the train. She wrote about how she was treated and her story went old-school viral. She sued the train company AND WON (although the case was overturned on appeal.) While Wells was a teacher in Memphis, she began writing editorials criticizing Jim Crow laws. Her writing about the conditions of Black schools got her fired.
After her close friends were lynched by a mob of white law enforcement officers and citizens, she began writing investigative stories about lynching. At the time, public sentiment sided with the lynch mobs and couched lynchings as justice. Ida B. Wells work exposed lynching for what it truly was - racialized terrorism intended to intimidate, control, and keep Black people “in their place” in society. Her writing upset the status quo so much that at one point, a white mob destroyed the offices of the newspaper she owned, and she was forced to leave Memphis, where she lived at the time, for her safety.
Despite these threats, Ida wrote on. She would continue to be outspoken about racial violence, women’s suffrage, and civil rights. And she would continue to call out foes AND allies when she didn’t think their actions were aligned with justice. She was truly a civil rights warrior. She went on to found several civil rights organizations and was a founding member of the NAACP. In 2020, she was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her work. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_B._Wells)
I thank Ida B. Wells for being an example of what it means to move in alignment with your values and commitment to liberation, no matter the consequence. #28LoveLetterstoBlackWomen #BlackHistoryMonth2023 #Day8
Photo credit: Mary Garrity, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Image Description: Sepia toned picture of Ida B. Wells. She is wearing a long-sleeved black lace dress.