11th IB English
18 April 2014
Ida B. Wells Fight For Racial Equality
Henry David Thoreau, in his essay, civil disobedience, argues that when a person is not in comfort with the government, then we have a right as humans to act against its injustice. Thoreau supports his argument by first stating that unjust laws exist and that we shall endeavor to amend them instead of being content to obey them. His purpose is to inform the reader about the way they are being mistreated by government and to persuade them to act against their injustices in a civil disobedient way inn order to see the government acting up more rapidly and systematically. Thoreau establishes a critical and righteous tone for those who are against the standing government and are seeking for change. Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience influenced many political leaders, among these, Ida B. Wells, who fought against racial injustice and segregation. Racism was crucial during the 20th century, leading to the use of passive resistance by wells in order to abolish these injustices. Henry David Thoreau was an intellectual American philosopher who exerted an enduring influence on American thought. He was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, where he wrote various essays, among these A Plea for Captain John Brown, and Civil Disobedience. Thoreau believed strongly in transcendentalism, the idea that knowledge comes through intuition instead of logic or the senses. A transcendentalist person is one that can trust their selves to be their own authority on what is right. On his essay Civil Disobedience, Thoreau heartedly accepted “that government is best which governs least” (Thoreau 1). He believes that the standing government is very unjust, and we should follow our consciences and let it govern and not the government itself. In his writings, Thoreau encourages his audience to stand up for their rights, stating that it was not necessary to use violence to promote views and attain the most expedient government he wished for. Thoreau always pursued his beliefs, even when consequences would follow from his civil disobedience actions. He was a dedicated supporter of this passive resistance method of bringing about change, and his tactics were later on used by other memorable figures, among these Ida B. Wells. The formal public record of lynchings In the United States shows that, during the post-civil war era, mob violence against African Americans steadily increased, “with the first peak occurring in 1892”, the year Ida B. Wells was born. Ida B. Wells was an anti-lynching crusader, journalist, suffragist and speaker who fought for racial equality and civil rights (Royster 10). She was born a slave in Mississippi, and was raised facing the injustices that her parents and others around her as slaves had to go through. Seeing her mother being constantly beaten and whipped as a slave, was one of the many factors that contributed to her fiery temper that often got her into trouble as a child. The greatest crisis that she faced during her earlier years was the death of both of her parents and a sibling after a yellow fever epidemic struck her town in 1878. At the age of 16 years old, emblematic of the righteousness and responsibility that characterized her life, Wells decided to make herself look older by wearing bigger clothes and makeup. By doing this, she achieved to get a teaching job in order to support her siblings financially and to prevent them from being put into different homes. She managed to continue her education by attending a near-by Rust College and later on focusing on her career as a journalist. At the age of 32, Wells married Frederick Douglass and took part in his newspaper: Free Speech. Ida B. Wells became a leading community activist through a sequence of pivotal events. Her fight for racial justice using civil disobedience began in 1884, when she was asked by the conductor of the train she boarded to give up her...
Bibliography: Ida B. Wells A Passion for Justice. Dir. William Greaves. 1989. DVD
Director William Greaves published the film “Ida B
Harris, Clarissa Myrick. "Ida B. Wells." Ida B. Wells. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
Wells-Barnett, Ida B., and Jacqueline Jones. Royster. Southern Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. Boston, MA: Bedford, 1997. Print.
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