Ida B. Wells
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, and early leader in the Civil Rights movement, was one of the founders of the NAACP.
After her parents died, she kept her family of younger siblings intact by becoming a teacher, while her grandmother watched the younger children during the day.
Her major activist role was documenting lynching in the United States, the often-used way to control or punish Blacks who competed with whites. Her first active role as a protester was when, in 1884, she refused to give up her seat on a train. She was dragged out off the train and hired an African-American lawyer to sue the railroad. After the lawyer was paid off by the Railway, she hired a white attorney and won her case with a $500 award. But the railway company appealed to the Tennessee Court, which overturned the lower court’s decision.
The murder of friends drove Wells to document lynchings, and she learned that Blacks were lynched for failing to pay debts, not giving way to whites, competing with whites economically, and being drunk in public. She found no evidence to back up the claim that Black men were being punished for abusing white women.
Wells continued to investigate lynching, despite threats on her life. Her book on the subject contributed to making the public more aware of the horrors of lynching.