Ida B. Wells was a well-established journalist who lived during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. She was born in Mississippi in 1862 to James and Elizabeth Wells, who were enslaved until the Emancipation Proclamation. When Ida was 16, both of her parents and her youngest brother were killed by a yellow fever epidemic. Ida took the responsibility of looking after and providing for her five remaining siblings. Wells moved to Memphis with her aunt where she made many connections with nationally renowned figures focused on the betterment of African-American society. While in Memphis, Wells became a leading figure in the community. She wrote her first article in 1884 and by 1889 was the co-owner of the Free Speech and Headlight paper. Wells was also elected to the position of National Press Association secretary. In 1892, three of Wells’ friends were wrongfully lynched. Until this event, Ida had supported the idea of lynching as a punishment for crimes. She began to take a closer look at lynching and was astonished by what she discovered. This prompted Ida to launch her anti-lynching campaign. After being exiled from Memphis, Ida found a writing position for the New York Age. On June 25, 1892, Ida published an article depicting her exile from Memphis. This gave her anti-lynching campaign the momentum it needed to get off the ground. Lynching was a common practice in the south during the late 19th century. At first it was used as a way to serve justice for crimes. But it quickly evolved; whites used lynching as a way to control the African-American population with the fear of being killed. These events were not isolated what so ever. The events occurring following the Robert Charles manhunt in New Orleans are a prime example of how lynching was not isolated to the perpetrator at all. Charles was being wrongfully arrested and retaliated. After injuring one of the officers and escaping, the
Cited: Royster, Jacqueline J., ed. Souther Horrors and Other Writings: The Anti-Lynching Campaign of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1900. Boston: Bedfor/St. Martin 's, 1997.