Happy Birthday, Ida B. Wells-Barnett!

image of Ida B. Wells

Image Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Born in Mississippi weeks before the Emancipation Proclamation was announced. Teacher. Investigative journalist. Newspaper owner. Anti-lynching crusader. Suffragist. Early leader in the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements.

At age 16, Ida B. Wells (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) lost her parents and youngest brother to yellow fever. She dropped out of school to support her surviving 5 siblings, keeping them out of foster homes. She later was an investigative journalist who documented lynchings in the South. This work resulted in her escaping Memphis for Chicago for fear of death threats. She lectured all over the United States, Caribbean and England. This is the late 1800s and the early 1900s.

How Ms. Wells met her husband is a historical romance novel waiting to happen: he was the attorney who represented her in a libel suit she filed against 2 Black Memphis attorneys. Will somebody please write this story?!

Reading Mrs. Wells-Barnett’s story reminded me a lot of Katherine Wildhorse, a character in the novel Topaz by Beverly Jenkins. What other characters remind you of Ida B. Wells-Barnett? Who wants to see her story in a romance novel?

Resources:

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_B._Wells
http://people.duke.edu/~ldbaker/classes/AAIH/caaih/ibwells/ibwbkgrd.html
http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/barn-ida.htm

National Parks Service (Wells-Barnett residence in Chicago): http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/civilrights/il2.htm
Guide to Ida B. Wells Papers 1884-1976 (University of Chicago): http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/scrc/findingaids/view.php?eadid=ICU.SPCL.IBWELLS
Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, ISBN: 978-0226893440

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