Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells – A Trailblazing Journalist and Civil Rights Activist

Ida B. Wells was an African American journalist, suffragist, and civil rights activist who fought against racial discrimination and injustice in the United States. Born into slavery in 1862, Wells rose to prominence as a writer and speaker, exposing the horrors of lynching and advocating for the rights of Black people and women.

Early Life

Ida B. Wells was born on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi, to enslaved parents. After the Civil War, her family became free, but faced many obstacles due to the systemic racism and discrimination of the time. Wells attended Rust College and later became a teacher, but was fired for speaking out against the poor conditions and low wages for Black teachers.

Journalism Career

In the 1890s, Wells became a journalist, writing for various newspapers and publishing her own newspaper, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight. She investigated and wrote about the lynching of Black people in the South, documenting the horrific violence and advocating for justice. Her reporting and activism put her in danger, and she had to flee Memphis after her office was destroyed by a mob.

Civil Rights Activism

Wells continued her activism, speaking and writing about the injustices faced by Black people and advocating for their rights. She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and worked to secure voting rights and anti-lynching legislation. She also fought for women’s suffrage, believing that women’s rights and civil rights were intertwined.


Ida B. Wells’ tireless advocacy for civil rights and justice had a lasting impact on American society. Her journalism and activism helped to raise awareness of the horrors of lynching and other forms of racism, and her work paved the way for future civil rights leaders. Wells died on March 25, 1931, but her legacy as a trailblazing journalist and civil rights activist lives on.

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