Ida B. Wells-Barnett Inspiration

By LaReeca Rucker

This semester, Oxford Stories is dedicated to the life and work of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who was born in Holly Springs only a few miles from the University of Mississippi. This summer, I attended her birthday celebration in Holly Springs that featured the quilts you see pictured here.

One of our Oxford Stories reporters’ first assignments was to research and write a report about Wells-Barnett naming at least three reporting values they discovered in her work. Here is what they said:

_DSC0001Denver Jones Haggard

Bravery and courage are rare traits. It is never easy to stand for something you believe in when it feels like the world is against you. Being brave is taking the lead, doing what’s right and never worrying what others think.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born into a slave family in the small Mississippi town of Holly Springs. She did not let that stop her from attaining her education and career.

Later after moving to Memphis, she found herself in a weird situation on a train ride to the rural school where she taught. After purchasing a first-class ticket, Wells-Barnett was asked to move to a lower quality seat on the train to accommodate a well-to-do white man.

She refused and faced a riot. A mob of white men physically removed her from the seat. Wells-Barnett sued the city of Memphis for the inconvenience and won $500.

Years later, the city reviewed the case again on further evidence and forced Wells-Barnett to pay the court fees. But, she did not give up. She turned to local African American newspapers to tell her story.

Wells-Barnett was consistent in her beliefs and never gave up when she felt like she was alone. She was brave, courageous and a role model for every American.

IMG_3718[1779]DSCN7047(1)Sydney Stevens

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was one the of most powerful journalists of her time. She was a determined, fearless risk taker. If she were alive today, she would have an abundance to write about considering the issues facing today’s society.

Wells-Barnett’s pieces struck emotions. For example, in her article “Lynching Law in all its Phases,” she described lynching as, “repeated attacks on life, liberty and happiness…” When a writer can tap into the audience’s emotions, they can better convey their message.

Born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells-Barnett began writing for a non-profit church organization and eventually became the owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, according to Biography.com. Her determination grew, and she became an activist for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Claiming that the NAACP lacked action, she removed herself. This showed how desperately she wanted change for African Americans. Wells was not afraid to voice her opinion and not afraid to take risks.

As an African American anti-lynching writer living during extreme racial segregation, that alone demonstrates her bravery. After one of her friends was lynched, “…she spent two months traveling in the South gathering information on other lynching incidents,” according to Biography.com. She risked her life to report news others were afraid to report. This idea relates to the media today.

If Wells-Barnett were alive today, her writings would promote the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of her articles focused on the racism African Americans faced and how authority figures were biased, much like how police brutality is prominent in today’s society. Wells-Barnett would create action towards a better, equalized future.

Kaitlin HollisterKatherine Hollister

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was born into slavery in 1862, but just six months after her birth, the Emancipation Proclamation freed those in the South who remained in slavery.

However, even though African Americans living in the Confederate states were freed from slavery, they were unable to escape the prejudice and restrictions that continued in the deep South.

These injustices based on race encouraged Wells-Barnett to write about issues of race and politics in the South. She worked as a teacher in a segregated public school, and continued writing. Many of her articles were published in African American newspapers.

She would eventually become the first African American female to own a very large newspaper in a big city, but her endeavors came with backlash. Despite many obstacles she faced, she continued to investigate what was happening in the world around her. She was determined to tell the truth and fight for what she believed to be right.

Wells-Barnett wanted a better understanding of the events going on around her and why they were happening. She started using investigative journalism to better develop her stories and positions.

During this time, lynchings of African Americans were not an uncommon occurrence. She experienced personal tragedy when a friend, Tom Moss, and two African American men were lynched for opening a business that competed with the business of a white man.

Outraged by what had occurred, she chose to start writing articles showing her disgust with the unjust killings of African Americans and the many social injustices they faced. Regardless of the incredible danger she encountered, Wells-Barnett spent several months touring the South investigating various lynching incidents and collecting information about them.

She published editorials in her newspaper from the information gathered. Her work offered a better look into the atrocities happening in the South, and they allowed Wells-Barnett to push her anti-lynching campaign.

Wells-Barnett worked hard to discover truth and push for equality for all people. In her articles and editorials, she told the truth about what was happening no matter how unsightly or violent it may have been. She was so dedicated to telling the truth, it cost her job.

She was a well known critic of the poor conditions of African American-only schools. Her decision to speak out and advocate for better and more equal conditions resulted in Wells-Barnett being fired as a teacher at a local school. She never sugar coated what was going on in the world because she wanted people to be informed no matter the cost.

She believed if she was vocal and honest about corruption, it would be harder for people to ignore it. It was important that she brought a better understanding of race and other progressive movements occurring through honest and factual reporting.

Wells-Barnett was a dedicated journalist and activist. She devoted her life to informing people about social and political issues and actively speaking out. She never gave up or turned away from something she firmly believed in, no matter how dangerous things were or could have been for her. She fought to inform those around her about important social and political issues that needed to be dealt with, even after it cost her her business and put her life at risk.

Wells-Barnett’s dedication and efforts for justice continued until her death in March 1931. She left behind a heroic legacy encouraging all people to never give up in an effort to fight for what is right no matter the consequences.

It is easy to speculate about what she might write about if she were still around today. I believe she would continue her efforts about political and social topics. Although as a country and people we have come a long way both politically and socially in the last nearly 100 years, I think someone as proactive and involved as Wells-Barnett would argue there is always room for improvement. She might also agree that, as generations advance and move forward, we must learn from our past before we are able to progress.

KaelynSreenanKaelyn Sreenan

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was among the first data reporters because she kept records of whom, where and why lynchings happened. Wells-Barnett was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement and was one of the founders of the NAACP. She was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movements.

Her reporting values include justification, persistence and truth. Through reporting, she discovered many black men were not lynched for crimes that were claimed, such as sexually assaulting white women, but were lynched for much smaller crimes and getting in the way of white people. She diligently sought truth and published her findings in Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All its Phases. Her courageous reporting exposed the horrors of lynching nationally and internationally.

If Wells-Barnett were alive today, she would continue writing about African Americans. Although the problems are not exactly the same as back then, there are similarities and injustices. Racial inequalities are still present and wrongful doings still happen. She would likely be writing about gun laws, politics, femininity and riots, such as Charlottesville. She is an idolized journalist, feminist and leader who left the world a better place.

MALIA CAROTHERSMalia Carothers

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an active activist, journalist, and researcher. She and her family faced many hardships, but her parents still pushed Wells to get an education.

She was enrolled in Rust College, but was soon kicked out because she started a dispute with the school president. After the death of her parents and youngest siblings due to the yellow fever epidemic, Wells-Barnett moved to Memphis with her remaining siblings.

If she were here today, she would probably write about African American injustices regarding police. She would probably include death rates and bad encounter statistics.

Margaux Pope

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were alive today, I believe she would still be a major activist in promoting fair treatment of African Americans. She would be involved in advancing the involvement of African Americans at Ole Miss. Specifically, I believe she would be involved in removing the Confederate soldier statue that is here on campus.

BenWarnickBen Warnick

One value Ida B. Wells-Barnett demonstrated is perseverance. She was left orphaned at age 16, along with five brothers and sisters, after the Holly Springs yellow fever epidemic in 1878. I believe this made her drive even greater, as she had to grow up and fight for what she knew was right at a very young age.

Another value she demonstrated in her work is the desire for justice. She had been discriminated against throughout her early career as an underpaid teacher, as an underprivileged African American woman simply trying to make a train ride, and as a friend of those lynched in a Memphis grocery store. She knew Memphis was not a place of justice at that time, thereby leading her to urge African Americans to leave Memphis altogether in her Free Speech and Headlight writings.

Lastly, a value that Wells-Barnett demonstrated is bravery in the face of trials. Her life was threatened on multiple occasions for the stands she took against lynching. She remained strong and continued to both write and surround herself with powerful leaders in the black community. She knew what it took to maintain her determination in the face of adversity, and we remember her even today for her dedication to equal rights and justice for all.

ALEXIS RHODENAlexis T. Rhoden

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was one of the first successful black women in journalism. Wells-Barnett came from a time when whites feared her persistence reporting information about lynchings. Although she studied education in college, her studies outside of school were to learn the motive behind lynchings.

Wells-Barnett had a profound method for reporting – speaking from all sides and projecting the truth. She went to each lynching to observe the crowd and their purpose. One event she explained that hit home for her is when her best friend was lynched. This fueled her fire. She traveled to spread the news to blacks in Memphis and up north. Another value Wells-Barnett demonstrated was having faith in reform.

In today’s world, Wells-Barnett would have been satisfied and disappointed. She would have many followers, because now we have social media and hashtags to get everyone involved. She wouldn’t have to travel to different cities to spread the word. Wells-Barnett would be disappointed to know we came so far to just go back to our original ways with all of the killings in the past few years.

MarleneMiddletonMarlene Middleton

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a revolutionary writer, journalist and hero. Among the many values she demonstrated in her work, three are honesty, leadership and strength. If she were alive today, I think she would write about police brutality, gender rights, and “the wall” our leaders want to build, which separate and divide us even further. She would be a beacon of hope for the people that are oppressed still today.

21150397_1451027034975496_4183851528076837173_nMikael Odum

Three reporting values seen throughout Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s work are accuracy, independence (unbiased) and fairness.

She valued accuracy by writing factual information about incidents she experienced. She relied on truth about what happened. Independence played a huge role in her writing, because during this time, women were not treated the same as men, and white people were not treated the same as African Americans. She became an independent African American who realized her voice should be heard.

She impacted women, African Americans, and America as a whole. She was determined to be treated with equality and did not settle for anything less. If she were alive today, I believe she would write about topics that deal with racism, America’s history, how her story could relate to today’s world and overcoming racism. She would write about how Barack Obama became America’s first African American president, which shows how far America has come as a whole.

Meagan Mobley

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a firecracker. She knew she had a voice and used it to enlighten the world about real life events. She was a black woman in the time of racism and segregation. She was tired of the mistreatment of her people, and she wanted to give them the recognition they deserve.

She was a strong and courageous woman. She was a civil rights activist who did not back down from any story. She urged African-Americans to move out of the bad Southern areas and keep their families close. She knew her voice was not just her own. She represented something much bigger. She was a voice for the people.

DSC_0188River Childers

One of Ida B. Wells-Barnett’s values is hard work. Wells-Barnett went through many challenges to accomplish what she did. At the time, women – and especially black women – had little to no opportunity to make it in the United States. In modern America, she would write about many different issues, including the removal of the Confederate statues and how they affect people’s daily lives in America.

cossarChip Cossar

I think Ida B. Wells-Barnett would today write about the riots happening in America, constantly dealing with racism, and even things that are taking place right here on our very own campus and in our very city of Oxford.

She might be talking about the incident that happened at the Greek retreat with the banana peel and how it may or may not have been offensive to her and her people.

Numerous things are taking place in America right now dealing with racism. Even though I think she would be tremendously pleased with the progress that has been made, I still think she would think there is much more room for improvement.

ColleenStimolaColleen Stimola

Ida B. Wells-Barnett learned that nearly 750 black men, women, and children were lynched. She later found that only one-third of those lynched were accused of raping or committing a crime.

Though blacks were terrorized due to these acts, white males and females were untouched if they committed similar crimes proving the double standard.

Aside from lynching, Wells-Barnett placed great value on women’s rights, and she founded many organizations focusing on this and the suffrage movement, which worked towards improving the lives of African-American women.

She founded the first black women’s club in Illinois, where members raised money and became involved in the community to improve black lives. During this time, she was also an editor of a black newspaper focusing on racial issues. She helped establish the first black orchestra in Chicago and began a kindergarten for black children.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett retired in the late 1890s, but went back to work when she heard about another brutal lynching. She lobbied Congress and President McKinley for an anti-lynching law. Her values also focused on educating influential whites to join her movements because she knew that would be a key component to success.

Wells-Barnett had a strong personality that clashed with the high society whites. She was intolerant of those whose opinions contradicted with her own.

If Wells-Barnett was still alive today, I think she would still be writing about many of the same things she was seeking to correct in the 1800s and 1900s. Though women’s rights have improved, there is still a lot of racism against blacks in our nation.

I think she would be trying to make blacks and whites lives more equal, and to stop segregation in many communities. In recent news, she would write about racism and other controversies between blacks and whites that have reached a high, especially in some of the Southern states.

Crime has climbed to epidemic proportions in the city of Chicago, especially in historically black neighborhoods. Our prison system has a disproportionate amount of prisoners who are African-American, and some question the legitimacy of the incarcerations due to racial influence. Lately, people have become outraged over Confederate statues, and are trying to remove these historic landmarks around the nation because some say they glorify those who were slave owners.

At Ole Miss, there was recent controversy over a banana peel being left in a tree that caused some members of our community to feel frightened, hurt and upset because bananas have historically been used to demean black people.

Today, I believe Wells-Barnett would be still trying to educate citizens on the history of African-Americans, the removal of the stigmas that surround black lives, and she would strive for peace and unity among all people.

GRIFFINNEALGriffin Neal

From a young age, Ida B. Wells-Barnett recognized the hardships people of color in America faced, and she stood determined to play a role in correcting them. Possessing an activist’s heart and a revolutionary’s pen, she spoke about civil rights in the Reconstruction South.

After a controversial story caused her to flee north, Wells-Barnett took up shop in New York, where her writing was more widely distributed and read. Wells-Barnett died an activist, a skilled writer, orator, and founding member of the NAACP. Her legacy carries on.

As a journalist, Wells-Barnett was revolutionary. Writing about controversial topics, she seldom shied away from the truth – no matter how harsh. Her muckraker-esque style of journalism could be described as ceaselessly truth seeking, a value a select few possess.

An outspoken person of color, she also employed virtues of courage and valor. Repeatedly lambasting those guilty of lynching in the paper, she effectively gave voice to those otherwise speechless. While she didn’t don the stars and stripes, nor carry a gun and march in line, Wells-Barnett was a soldier – a soldier for truth and justice.

Finally, she was uncompromising. Normally, compromise is seen as a positive, as a sign there is a “meeting of the minds” on complex issues. But Wells-Barnett wasn’t interested in compromise, she was interested in truth. Her stalwart pursuit of justice, combined with her will to never capitulate on any issue, garnered her the appellation as one of this nation’s most zealous defenders of civil rights.

KATHERINEJOHNSONKatherine Johnson

Ida B. Wells-Barnett embodied a pioneer woman. She firmly believed in her opinions and fought the status quo to defend these thoughts. Her passion was unprecedented and solidified her presence as a reformer. Her writing had an edge, there was a definite undertone of anger that mirrored her emotions.

Wells’ inflections were keen and precise, used to purposely attack the public issues of oppression. The woman had a unique ability to be fearlessly truthful, visually detailed, and carefully plainspoken. The powerful combination of these attributes and more created the legacy she left behind.

Wells crafted articles that offered an honestly explicit account of the life of an African American individual during her era. She specifically told of the violence the African American people suffered and juxtaposed it with the the lack of attention from white society. Her writing was wholesome and honest, nearly to a fault.

There is a painful tone that accompanies her words as she illustrates suffering. She is a master in her art form as she paints vividly sincere scenes to portray her emotions. Impressively, she maneuvers through tender topics with a frank vocabulary.

Her words are easy to understand and allow the common man of her time to benefit from her works as a journalist. Wells knew how to fully relate to her audience to achieve maximum impact. Her exceptional writings combine her talents of truthfulness, detail, and clarity to exemplify the cries of her fellow African American citizens.

With such a strong personality, Wells-Barnett defied the commonalities of society to make a case for those oppressed in society. In modern day, this would manifest itself as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. She would be a pivotal proponent of the discussion about race in today’s society. She would chime in about the racial tensions that invade every part of daily life and argue for the people who are not able to fight for themselves.

JULIETTE ST. ROMAIN BIO PHOTOJuliette St. Romain

Ida B. Wells-Barnett showed many journalistic characteristics throughout her lifetime. Bravery, resilience and hard work are just a few of the qualities that make her a true icon in the journalism field.

She is brave because she went to the heart of the South to get her stories straight from the sources themselves. She did not go to a second-hand party for information. This comes through with the raw and real emotion her stories contained.

She also possessed resilience through many hardships and trials she faced. Wells had to rise above slavery and racism for her voice to be heard and recognized as a true professional.

Adam Horn

If Ida B. Wells were alive today, I believe she would be investigating and reporting on police brutality, pay equity and women’s health rights issues. She may well even be in elected office as a congresswoman or a senator.

IMG_3552Carter Diggs

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a civil rights activist and journalist who became famous for bringing to national attention the lynchings of black people in the South. She possessed many strong qualities in her work. Despite many death threats and the constant threat of falling under a militant mob’s radar, she never faltered in exposing the cruel truths of the lynch mobs.

Wells was also fiercely independent in her work. Her personal drive to spread her stories was never compromised by any outside force. In some instances, she even left big partners like the NAACP because she felt they were not oriented enough towards action.

If Wells-Barnett were alive today, she would definitely be talking about the race issues that still exist. No doubt that she would have many things to say on the national subject of police brutality.

Wells would likely have reported on the inciting incidents that pushed the subject into national attention and the rise of groups like Black Lives Matter. In the heightened political climate, it is also easy to believe she would have many scathing things to say about the current state of the Republican Party and President Donald Trump.

Margaret Griffin

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were still alive today, I think she would write about the recent police brutality and how, or if, it is comparable to the brutality she witnessed and wrote about years ago. I think her established reputation as a leader could open the minds of those who maybe have preconceived opinions of the recent police brutality incidents. If she could write about these incidents, I think she would be able to avoid political aspects of the arguments and simply focus in on the important aspects that are tied into the entire ongoing trend of the issues that drive police brutality. Her perspective on this could be very beneficial and interesting.

TKEYAHJONEST’Keyah Jones

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were alive today, she would be writing about the revision of the Affordable Care Act, presidential elections, fake news vs. politicians, the education system, wage gaps and journalistic integrity.

KELLY ZEIDNERKelly Zeidner

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett was still alive today, I believe she would continue to report on racial injustice topics. Issues such as the violence in many hate groups today would get her attention.

The powerful words Ida could express would be exactly what the country needs right now. Her ability to capture an audience, whether it is in writing or in front of a large group, would urge Americans to unify.

The country needs a brave individual that is not afraid to call out the poor actions that have happened recently. Ida B. Wells-Barnett would be an activist for racial issues today, as she was in the past.

SEANGILLEN.jpgSean Gillen

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were still alive today, she would most likely continue to write about her passion for social justice and making her voice heard. Discriminatory laws are now long removed, which would give her more freedom to write about what she pleases. She would also enjoy that she would be protected, she would not have to worry about threats or vandals destroying her office.

Racism will never go away. To some extent, race will always be an issue. Today, people want their voices and opinions to be heard, particularly when it comes to racial and social issues. If Wells-Barnett were still alive today, she would have no problem assembling news stories. There are tons of racial issues still burning.

How sports players are kneeling for the national anthem would be an interesting topic to read Wells-Barnett’s thoughts on. On one hand, people stand to show respect our flag and for those who have made sacrifices. On the other, you have people who chose to kneel in protest because of social injustices. This is perfectly allowed within the First Amendment.

One could only imagine the bold and brave voice of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and all of the different angles she could write about regarding today’s modern social and racial issues.

JOHN BOVEJohn Bove

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was an American icon to many. Three things that made her quite valuable then, and even today as a reporter, are her knowledge base; her ethical compass and her acute sense of timing.

To start, Wells-Barnett was a a very educated young lady. She attended Freedmen’s school, along with Shaw University, Rust College and Fisk University. She once gave a 14-page statistic briefing related to lynching cases from 1892 through 1895. She noted that her data was taken from publications dominated by whites.

I’d like to use a quote from a Malcolm X speech on May 5th, 1962: “The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”

This quote means a lot. Yes it came 30 years after Wells-Barnett’s death, but when you break this quote down and look at all that she did in her lifetime, she was truly amazing. Also, If Wells-Barnett were alive in 2016, she would be reporting on Donald Trump, and police brutality against black men and women.

BRIAN BARISABrian Barisa

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were reporting today, she would likely be discussing the recent police violence and developing an understanding of what values we hold dear as Americans.

She would use the wake of shootings to help develop a public understanding of what is right and wrong, and alert her fellow citizens of the dangers of preconceived ideas.

She would continue to show that our world still has a chance to improve and become equal for all.

MORGANQUINNELLYMorgan Quinnelly

In her work, Ida B. Wells-Barnett held to the values of truth and accuracy, independence and humanity. She reflected three of these core principles of journalism by researching her stories thoroughly, writing about topics she felt passionately about, and holding herself accountable for the work she produced.

She had plenty of opportunity to drag those who participated in lynchings and other violent acts against African Americans through the mud in her articles, but instead she focused more on helping those who were in danger. She wrote about why the motivations for the lynchings were false, and what those motivations really were, instead of dehumanizing the people who conducted these terrible acts.

If Wells-Barnett were alive, she would likely be an open supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and would openly denounce police brutality, especially against people of color. This is inferred because of the causes that she actively fought for in her lifetime.

DESTINYTHOMPSONDestiny Thompson

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were alive today, she would be reporting on things to do with equality of all genders, such as the pay gap and workplace gender discrimination seen across the country today.

Wells-Barnett would also be shining light on issues such as police brutality and America’s distrust of other countries and their religions. She spent her days fighting for the justice of all and was even quoted once saying: “I felt that one had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap.”

Hadley Marin

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were still alive today, I believe her main concern would be about Black Lives Matter or how the African American community is still treated poorly in America. I’m sure she would also touch on President Donald Trump and maybe the national anthem protest going on in the National Football League.

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 1.37.21 PMJay Johnson

Wells-Barnett was a fearless reporter. Her reporting style was aggressively direct and very simple. Her work centered around aspects of equality, specifically concerning the African American community.

Wells-Barnett is most commonly known for her work regarding race, discrimination, gender, and justice for all. She appreciated factual evidence. She presented alarming statistics and gruesome details to the public.

In a collection of notes from 1892, Wells wrote about lynchings. She explained that lynching serves as an excuse to stop blacks from acquiring wealth and systematically makes it harder for them to enhance their quality of life. This kind of logic forced the public to look at these unexplained murders on a compass that challenged their moral conscience.

Wells dedicated her life to justice. Her passion for helping others often put her own life in jeopardy. Her fearless nature and her burning desire for equality helped outline the future for minorities.

If Ida B. Wells-Barnett were here today, she would admonish those who do not believe in “white privilege.” She would use her words to exploit individuals who appropriate hate groups, dismiss the cries of affordable healthcare, overlook the lives lost to police brutality, and simplify women. Ida B. Wells-Barnett would be writing about all the same topics, she once wrote about.

IMG_1309Quentaisha Warren

If she were still living, I think Wells-Barnett would still be writing about racism and politics, because nothing has really changed except the way people do things.

SHERELLE BROWN JPG_editedSherelle Brown

One reporting value Ida B. Wells-Barnett displayed was the ability to observe the social conditions of her time. She utilized her pamphlet A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States, 1892-1894 as a tool to inform the public of the brutality of lynching.

Key points she researched and stated were that many murders never surfaced, lynching was a tactic used by whites to keep blacks from becoming successful, and that high ranking officials, such as police officers, were often involved in these murders.

Another value she demonstrated was her willingness to work with other journalists. She united with Jane Addams to discuss civil rights issues and create organizations dedicated to ending racism.

Wells-Barnett’s most notable reporting value was the ability to connect to her audience. During her tour of Europe in 1893, she wrote articles depicting accounts of America’s social problems. In the end, her pamphlet A Red Record persuaded the public against lynching, resulting in the lynching rate to decrease and for states to implement anti-lynching laws.

If she were alive today, she would report on racism. She proved to be a strong journalist because she had the ability to report on social issues, work with other journalists, and get her message across to her audience.

Will Stribling 2William Stribling

Everything about Wells-Barnett’s younger years necessitated the self-sufficiency and determination she would carry throughout her life. She possessed a fire that often got her in trouble, but it also meant she did not tolerate the mistreatment that came her way because of her gender and the color of her skin.

This fire lead to some of the pivotal moments in Wells-Barnett’s life, such as her expulsion from Rust College, and her successful lawsuit against a railroad after she was denied a first-class seat she had purchased. Wells-Barnett bit the hand of one of the men as she was removed from the train, and this taste of open defiance set her on the path that would define her entire life.

After her incident with the railroad, Wells-Barnett entered the world of journalism. Integrity is the most fundamental of journalistic values and one she undeniably possessed. Her contributions to investigative journalism focused on lynching in the South.

In addition to her skills as a journalist, Wells-Barnett possessed incredible ingenuity. Simply publishing her work was not enough for Wells; she pioneered an anti-lynching campaign. This campaign became known nationally due to her impassioned speeches and further writings in newspaper columns.

If we were lucky enough to still have Ida B. Wells-Barnett walking among us today, she would not find a lack of work. If she was still writing, issues like police brutality and our broken prison system would clearly be areas on which she was focused. She would be one to stand against all issues of inequality, whether that’s through the shades of social justice, women’s rights, or any of the other areas our country needs to be better.