Even throughout the United States, it is not uncommon for people to be completely unaware of their history or how they even have rights to begin with. If it were not for the many different activist movements, people out protesting lockdowns of COVID19 would not even have that right. If not for the people of color standing up for rights of any kind, the rest of the population would suffer as well.
Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, abolitionist and feminist who led an anti-lynching crusade in the United States in the 1890s. She went on to found and become integral in groups striving for African American justice.
Born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on July 16, 1862, Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation about six months after Ida's birth.
Living in Mississippi as African Americans, they faced racial prejudices and were restricted by discriminatory rules and practices.
Wells' parents were active in the Republican Party during Reconstruction. Her father, James, was involved with the Freedman’s Aid Society and helped start Shaw University, a school for the newly freed slaves (now Rust College), and served on the first board of trustees.
It was at Shaw University that Wells received her early schooling. However, at the age of 16, she had to drop out when tragedy struck her family. Both of her parents and one of her siblings died in a yellow fever outbreak, leaving Wells to care for her other siblings. Ever resourceful, she convinced a nearby country school administrator that she was 18, and landed a job as a teacher.
In 1882, Wells moved with her sisters to Memphis, Tennessee, to live with an aunt. Her brothers found work as carpenter apprentices. For a time, Wells continued her education atFisk Universityin Nashville
Wells wrote about issues of race and politics in the South. A number of her articles were published in black newspapers and periodicals under the moniker "Iola." Wells eventually became an owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and, later, of the Free Speech.
On one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884, Wells reached a personal turning point that resulted in her activism. After 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 on principle.
As Wells was forcibly removed from the train, she bit one of the men on the hand. She sued the railroad, winning a $500 settlement in a circuit court case. The decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. This injustice led Wells to pick up a pen and write.
One editorial seemed to push some of the city's whites over the edge. A mob stormed the office of her newspaper, destroying all of her equipment. Fortunately, Wells had been traveling to New York City at the time. She was warned that she would be killed if she ever returned to Memphis
Although she had become a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement, Parks suffered hardship in the months following her arrest in Montgomery and the subsequent boycott. She lost her department store job and her husband was fired after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or their legal case.
Unable to find work, they eventually left Montgomery and moved to Detroit, Michigan along with Parks' mother. There, Parks made a new life for herself, working as a secretary and receptionist in U.S. Representative John Conyer's congressional office. She also served on the board of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
In 1987, with longtime friend Elaine Eason Steele, Parks founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. The organization runs "Pathways to Freedom" bus tours, introducing young people to important civil rights and Underground Railroad sites throughout the country.