Women's Roles Then and Now

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My name is Ida B. Wells Barnett was in born in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16, 1862. Six months after my birth the Emancipation Proclamation was signed to freed the slaves. My parents James and Elizabeth Wells were born slaves and I was the oldest of seven siblings. My father was one of the first broad members of Rust College, so education was very important to my parents. In 1878 the tragic outbreak of the yellow fever took my parents and one of my youngest sibling lives. At the age of sixteen I drop out of school and raised five siblings with the help of friends and relatives (Baker, 1996). Having to be a caretaker and provider, I convinced the school administrator that I eighteen year old and landed a teaching job. In 1883 my siblings and I moved to Memphis with my aunt who gives me the opportunity to seek employment and help me with rise my youngest siblings (Baker, 1996).

In Memphis I took training courses and was qualify to teach first grade students in Woodstock, Tennessee. On May 4, 1884 I purchased a first class ticket to Nashville, Tennessee on the train, I was outrage when a train conductor order me to give up my seat for a white man I refused and I got off at the next stop after causing so much commotion (Baker, 1996). As soon as I reached Memphis I hired a lawyer and sued the railroad company and winning a settlement of five hundred dollars, but the Tennessee Supreme Court later overturned the decision. After justice was not service to and I was treated unfair I started writing about race and politics issues in the south. I used the pen name Iola to start writing weekly article in the Living Way, which led my article to be published in nation black newspaper and periodicals in the United States. Eventually, I became owner of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and later the Free Speech. In 1891 I was fired from my teaching position because of some editorials criticizing the Memphis School Board of Education for the conditions in colored...
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