Remembering Ida B. Wells: An Educator, Feminist, and Anti-Lynching Civil Rights Leader

| How Africa News


Ida B. Wells, a champion of women’s and civil rights, is now regarded as one of the most accomplished figures in African-American history. A dedicated journalist, the lynching of her friends Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Henry Stewart in Memphis in 1892 would define Wells-career. Barnett’s

Moss, McDowell, and Stewart were arrested at first for defending themselves after Moss’ grocery store was attacked. Moss was a postman who had made a name for himself in the Black community in addition to owning a store. In March 1892, a white person in the grocery business felt that Moss had taken away his Black customers, so he enlisted the help of some off-duty sheriffs to destroy Moss’ store.

McDowell and Stewart, two of Moss’s friends, fought back. They had no idea the men were deputy sheriffs. Gunfire erupted, injuring several deputies. Moss and two of his friends were arrested, along with some Black people who had come to support them.

Moss and his two companions were dragged from their cells by masked men and taken to a deserted railroad yard where they were shot to death. Wells was enraged when she learned about her friends’ deaths and why Memphis police were doing so little to apprehend the perpetrators. She then urged her fellow Black men and women to join her in protesting by boycotting white-owned businesses and public transportation.

The lynching of her friends inspired her to investigate other similar lynching cases. Wells launched an anti-lynching campaign. She later published her findings in a pamphlet titled “Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All Its Phases.”

An excerpt from “Southern Horrors” reads:

Eight negroes lynched since last issue of the Free Speech one at Little Rock, Ark., last Saturday morning where the citizens broke(?) into the penitentiary and got their man; three near Anniston, Ala., one near New Orleans; and three at Clarksville, Ga., the last three for killing a white man, and five on the same old racket—the new alarm about raping white women. The same programme of hanging, then shooting bullets into the lifeless bodies was carried out to the letter.

Nobody in this section of the country believes the old thread-bare lie that Negro men rape white women. If Southern white men are not careful, they will overreach themselves and public sentiment will have a reaction; a conclusion will then be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputation of their women.

Wells spent months alone in the south researching and interviewing witnesses to approximately 700 lynchings from previous years. Her goal was to call into question the popular belief at the time that Black men were lynched because they raped white women.

Her findings revealed that there was no rape, but rather a consensual interracial relationship. Wells recognized that lynching was being used as an excuse to terrorize Black people who were acquiring property and wealth.

She published these findings in several editorials in the newspaper she co-owned and edited, The Memphis Free Speech and Headlight.

Born to enslaved parents in the town of Holly Springs on July 16, 1862, Wells first worked as a schoolteacher, attended Fisk University and wrote for Black-owned newspapers focusing on race issues.

She remains America’s most vocal leader against the heinous practice of lynching.

Written by How Africa News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

| How Africa News

The War Tower Used By The Kotoko Of Cameroon To Ensure Their 500-Year Survival Against Invasions

| How Africa News

Nigerian Man Rescued After Being Locked Up Inside A Room For 20 Years | Photo