The definition of a leader is, “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” (Dictionary) When people think of the greatest African American leaders, they tend to lean towards men such as Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X. They will go down as some of the post powerful leaders ever but before them there were strong, women leaders, such as Ida B. Wells. In her time, she fought sexism, racism, and violence but that did not stop her determination to make a difference and become a leader.
Ida B. Wells is known for being one of the first activist who fought for the African American Civil Rights movement. She began her story as a slave. She was born into a slave family which resided in Mississippi. After she was born President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which should have technically declared her and her family free but because the Wells’ family lived in Mississippi it was not until after the Civil War that her and her family were free. Ida B continued on to become a teacher in Memphis TN. Her leadership began when she bought a first-class train ticket. When she boarded the train, the conductor told her that she was not able to sit in first class even though she purchased the ticket. She refused to leave her seat but was later forced to do so. This resulted in Ida B suing the train company, which she won, but the Supreme Court later overruled that decision.
After the Supreme Court overturned the decision Ida began to voice her opinion on racial issues. Not only did she write for local newspapers and magazines she started her own newspaper called, The Free Speech. One of her most important pieces was about lynching. This shed light on the injustice African Americans experienced every single day. The lynching article included a personal story about her friend, Tom Moss. Moss was a business owner whose store was destroyed by a group of white supremacists. Moss was protecting himself and his store and killed one of the white men. This lead to Moss being hung by mob before he could even go to trial. People were not happy that Wells wrote about this incident. She had to move to New York to be safe. While she was in New York her newspaper offices were destroyed so she had to stay there and start a new business. Ida B started a New York newspaper called the New York Age. Here she wrote about how innocent people are being lynches and this allowed people all over the United States to understand what was actually happening. Ida's work and articles had a huge impact in lowering the number of lynching’s that were happening.
Ida became well-known for her writings about racial issues. She worked with other leaders such as Frederick Douglass to fight segregation laws. She was also a huge activist in women's rights, especially women being able to vote. When people think of strong African American leaders Ida B. Wells deserves to be in that list. She fought for the injustice African American’s experiences and women’s rights all while facing her own adversities.
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