Courage: Getting to Know Ida B. Wells
This spotlight on courage is a continuation to my inspirational theme. In light of Black History Month I will by taking a look into the life of the Civil Rights Activist Ida B. Wells.
A saying one defined Courage as the driving force that creates change in our society. It starts with a belief that one’s actions can inspire and make a difference, and then transforms into a characteristic that for some is sparked in a moment’s time, while for others is a gradual development that takes time to form and blossom. Courage, some would say, is the absence of fear, but it seems more fitting to think of it as an overcoming of fear.
Thinking of someone that exemplifies the label of courageous is Ida B. Wells, a Civil Rights journalist that used her voice to speak out against the vary injustices she experienced and saw in her community. An incident said to have occurred eighty years before Rosa Parks chose not to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, Wells refused to be forced from her first-class seat of the ladies section on a Montgomery train (Black). The authority’s act of forcefully removing her from the train ignited her motivation to utilize the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to obtain justice (Black). Initially winning the lawsuit and then witnessing the overturned decision fueled her idea to write political columns in her local church newspapers.
Unafraid to make waves, Wells chose to use her right to freedom of speech to address the issues of her community that did not get recognition. Wells became part owner of Free Speech and Headlight a publication through which she proceeded to make waves. She was let go from the Memphis school system (for an article questioning the funding of the board of education). Wells fought segregation, lynching, and supporting boycotts as well as women’s rights (Black). A mass lynching in 1892 of three black men, had many in arms, Wells was ready and prepared to write. Immense backlash insured resulting in the destruction of her paper because of her extensive investigation of the incident (Black). Feeling called to seek change in an alternative location; Wells moved to New York and began writing for the New York Age, where she continued to report about lynching. Her journey lead her to Europe for some time, and then to Chicago, where she continued to use her journalistic platform to fight for injustices.
After taking a break to raise her family Wells returned to the public eye by assisting in the creations of the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Black). Never getting the opportunity to hold a leadership position in the NAACP, she went on to form the Alpha Suffrage Club (Black). Well’s last great task, at the age of sixty-eight, was running for the Illinois legislature, being one of the first black women in the nation to do so (Black). Passing away the following year Wells left a legacy behind that shall live on. Her driven nature to not give up her train seat, to take a vocal stand, to speak up when others attempted to silence her and continuing to push the envelope to her last moments on this earth, was who she was. Wells not only had courage but she defined it.
Black, Patti C. “Ida B. Wells: A Courageous Voice for Civil Rights.” Ida B. Wells: A Courageous Voice for Civil Rights. Mississippi Historical Society, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.