The Importance of Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Jakayla Spearman
February 6, 2017









Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a form slave that became a journalist. Using her journalism skills, Wells outwardly spoke against the treatment of African-Americans. Wells is most commonly known for leading anti-lynching crusades across the United States. Ida B. Wells-Barnett can be considered one of the most influential women in history due to her success after having a troubled past.
Barnett's life was hard from the start. " Born a slave in 1862, Ida Bell Wells was the oldest daughter of James and Lizzie Wells. The Wells family, as well as the rest of the slaves of the Confederate states, were decreed free by the Union, about six months after Ida's birth, thanks to the Emancipation Proclamation. However, living in Mississippi as African Americans, they faced racial prejudices and were restricted by discriminatory rules and practices. " ("Ida B. Wells", 2016) .
Barnett e had to deal with not only personal issues but her family issues as well. " In late 1885, she referred to her tenure at Rust a "my darkest days." Ida's fiery temper often got her in trouble, and a confrontation with President Hooper apparently led to her dismissal sometime in 1880 or 1881 ." (Edwards, 1998, p. 13) . After her dismissal from the institution , Ida went to live with grandmother. While there, a yellow fever outbreak started in Holly Springs. "While Holly Springs was reeling from yellow fever, Ida was safe at her grandmother's house and presumed that the rest of the family had evacuated the city and gone to stay with her mother's sister Belle. When no word came from them, she assumed delivery of the mail had been disrupted. Then three men from Holly Springs brought her a letter, which she scanned until, as she later recalled, four sentences caught her eye: "Jim and Lizzie Wells have both died of the fever. They died within twenty-four hours of each other. The children are all at home and the Howard association has put a woman to take care of them. Send word to Ida." She immediately fainted and came to in a "house of mourning" surrounded by her grandmother, aunt, and uncle." (Edwards, 1998, pp. 14-15).
Barnett moved her family to Memphis to live with relatives. " In 1882, Wells moved with her sisters to Memphis, Tennessee, to live with an aunt. Her brothers found work as carpenter apprentices. For a time, Wells continued her education at Fisk University in Nashville. " ("Ida B. Wells", 2016) .
Barnett would soon face an injustice that would shape her future. " On one fateful train ride from Memphis to Nashville, in May 1884, Wells reached a personal turning point. Having bought a first-class train ticket to Nashville, she was outraged when the train crew ordered her to move to the car for African Americans, and refused on principle. As she was forcibly removed from the train, she bit one of the men on the hand. Wells sued the railroad, winning a $500 settlement in a circuit court case. However, the decision was later overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. " ("Ida B. Wells", 2016) .
Barnett put her journalism skills to the test and began writing about the injustices African-Americans faced. " While working as a journalist and publisher, Wells also held a position as a teacher in a segregated public school in Memphis. She became a vocal critic of the condition of blacks only schools in the city. In 1891, she was fired from her job for these attacks. She championed another cause after the murder of a friend and his two business associates. " ("Ida B. Wells", 2016) .
The murder of three African-American men caused Barnett to start her anti-lynching crusades throughout the south. " In 1892, three African-American men—Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart—set up a grocery store in Memphis. Their new business drew customers away from a white-owned store in the neighborhood, and the white store owner and his supporters clashed with the three men on a few occasions. One night, Moss and the others guarded their store against attack and ended up shooting several of the white vandals. They