This summer we celebrated the 163rd birthday of Mrs. Ida B. Wells. An American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement.
For America she is the hero for the voiceless group of people who suffered greatly at the hands of an oppressive reality. Ida. B. Wells was the first black person to challenge the transportation system in the name of equal rights, 71 years before our beloved face of the desegregation movement Rosa Parks. She would go on to win her case in court until later overturned by the federal court. A victory non the less considering the year was 1884.
In light of the lynchings of her close friends she used her podium as a writer for the Free Speech and Headlight to single-handedly encourage Memphis residence not to patronize the electric cars, ( the hottest new form of transportation at the time ) as well as other white owned businesses and to leave the city. Using the last words of her dear friend who was lynched as a warning to the black community. They indeed took heed and hundreds left the city; families and all. Memphis became a ghost town, drastically affecting its economy and serving as a reminder that the black dollar counts.
Fast forward Ida went on to become a powerful journalist, and the first to do many things of her time. The recipient of death threats and being banned from numerous cities, She led the crusade against lynchings in this country traveling and documenting her findings in a pamphlet titled “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases”.
She can be credited with bringing widespread attention to the cruel treatment of blacks in America post emancipation of proclamation, while the rest of the world rested peacefully in the belief that blacks had achieved freedom. Something i can assume was more of a blind eye mentality.
Later she and other black leaders of the time organized a boycott of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, for its failure to collaborate with the black community on exhibits representing African-American life. They created a pamphlet entitled “Reasons Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition.” and 20,000 people at the fair received a copy. (I know right,Take that! )
The list of her accolades go on and on far into her adult life, she is remembered as the Queen of Black journalism, a daring early civil rights activist, and the pioneer who risk her life for the sake of the truth and the complete truth.
Her legacy is evident as we honor the success of many other black journalist who came after her, in what i have deemed as a list of her seeds ( with a few of her colleagues in the mix). Here are a list of some of the most renowned black journalist of our time.
1.) W.E.B Du Bois – The Crisis (Founder)
2.) Marcus Garvey – The Africa Times, Orient Review & Negro World
3.) Bob Herbert – The New York Times
4.) Robert S. Abbott – The Chicago Defender (Founder)
5.) Ethel L. Payne– The Chicago Defender
6.) Alice Dunnigan – The Chicago Defender
7.) John Stengsacke – The Michigan Chronicle (Founder), Chicago Defender, Pittsburg Courier
8.) Simeon Booker – The Washington Post
9.) John H. Johnson – The Negro Digest (Founder) & Ebony (Founder)
10.) Raymond W. Cannon– The SPHINX
Journalism as a whole can thank Mrs. Wells, as well as these individuals listed, each of them deserve it for not only retaining the high level of truths within press, but also contributing to the evolution of advertisement and marketing in America, as well as the highlighting of black business’s from the early 1900’s to now. They have greatly influenced all aspects of business and press in America and will continue to be remembered for their good work, more over as Americans. So if ever in doubt, always know who and what came before you.