Black Women Who Slayed History: Ida B. Wells

This Black History Month, we’re highlighting the black woman who helped make our world what it is today. Today, we honor Ida B. Wells. 

Back in the 19th century, few women of any race worked outside the home. But Ida B. Wells was exposing racism as an investigative reporter and helping create the NAACP.

Ida was born a slave in 1862. After her family was freed, her dad helped start Rust College and Ida went to school there. But when Ida was 16, her parents died of yellow fever and Ida had to take care of her family.

Despite this setback, she still managed to become a totally kickass investigative reporter and activist.

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Ida was best known for investigated racially motivated lynchings in the south. And people did not like it. She was even once run out of Memphis for speaking the truth about black men who were falsely accused of rape by white women, then murdered by whites.

Way before Rosa Parks, she was arrested for refusing to leave a whites-only train car, the New York Times points out. She sued and took her case to the Tennessee Supreme Court, but lost.

Even back in the day, she was battling feminists who wanted to keep things white. White feminists worried that associating with black women would “slow down progress on rights for white women.” But Ida was still determined to get her voice heard, not only as a feminist but as one of the founders of the NAACP.

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One silver lining to her life of fighting for her rights: Ida was the first black woman to have her wedding announced on the front page of the New York Times — which is goals af and reserved only for A-listers, if that, today — when she married attorney Ferdinand L. Barnett in 1895.

She also didn’t make any apologies for low key caring more about her job than her husband and four kids.

“Having always been busy at some work of my own,” she once wrote, “I decided to continue to work as a journalist, for this was my first love. And might be said, my only love.”

Honestly same. Let’s all have a toast for Ida B. Wells. To read more about her, click here.

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