Ida B. Wells - a Red Record

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Ida B. Wells is well known for her influence during the civil rights and women’s rights movements. She was born in 1862 in Holly Springs Mississippi. Her parents died of yellow fever when she was only sixteen years old. She was to be split up from her other six siblings, but she dropped out of school and managed to get a job as a teacher and was able to keep her family together. She soon realized the discrimination in pay that there was as she was taking home thirty dollars compared to someone else’s eighty dollars a month. Then in 1884, she was confronted by a railroad conductor, asking her to move to the overly crowded smoking car. She refused and was drug off the train. She hired an attorney and tried to sue the railroad. Her attorney was bought off, and she had to hire a white attorney who eventually was able to get her a $500 settlement. However, the Supreme Court later overturned the decision, claiming “her intent was to harass, and was not in good faith to find a comfortable seat”. She gained recognition in the public for her writings about her experience and soon got an editorial job for a paper. She eventually became co-owner of the Free Speech Newspaper in Memphis where she became even more known for her investigative journalism on the lynchings of black men in the South. (

By the time that Ida B. Wells came along, the nation, in theory, had solved the issue of racism. The civil war was over, and the fourteenth amendment and the emancipation proclamation were in effect. Legally, blacks were equal now, and the Nation was going full steam ahead into industrialization. Being equal legally all was nice and peachy, however segregation and racism still ran wild, especially throughout the South. Now that blacks were equal, men in the south had to find new ways to keep their superiority over the blacks. It was a common affair to lynch black men for no justified reason at all. The men were often hung in the town center and the...
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