Ida B. Wells Reflective Essay
At the end of the civil war in 1865, blacks were finally set free. They were given the
right to marry, raise children, own property, and be protected by law. However, it was clear as
time progressed that the promises given from whites unto blacks in regards to freedom were
constantly being infringed upon. Soon these said freedoms were to be non-existent. That is
where pioneers such as Ida B. Wells, an activist and writer come into play. Ida B. Wells
launched a campaign against oppression that still, till this day is felt.
Wells’ impact upon the nation and upon the black community began very early. At the
age of 22, she filed a suit against a railroad company which had forcibly removed her from a
train she was on; the result was her being impacted both mentally and physically. Surprisingly,
Wells not only won the suit, but, she was also awarded $500 ( which would be $12,149.63
today). The case gained widespread recognition and praise by many blacks. However, the
railroad would later on appeal the ruling, and the state would end up reversing the decision.
The result of this case influenced Wells to begin sharing her experience through various black
news outlets. Soon after, Wells would begin a career as a journalist, in which she would relay
self-help, education, and social reform throughout the masses. More importantly, she began
discussing issues that she had heard and read about as a child, which included subjects such as
racism and power. Willing to fight, and stand up for social and racial justice, Wells bravely
wrote against the injustice that three black men faced at the hands of a white mob. Which then
prompted her to advocate for black migration to the Midwest (Kansas and Oklahoma); many
blacks followed her advice and did just that. Wells garnered vast power structure, because she
understood the political and economic strategy that whites were using to intimate blacks. She
informed blacks that there was no need to occupy a land that was utilizing politics and the
economy to instill fear in them. Rather, she urged blacks to quickly migrate. Six thousand blacks
migrated to the Oklahoma area because of Wells’ journal entry. In addition, Wells would also
use her influence and power to admonish the practice of lynching.
The number of lynching's occurring in the United States during Well’s time were high in
totality. In order to justify the lynching, which even involved children, whites would often allege
that the black community were committing egregious offenses. Such offenses included having
the wrong facial expressions, spewing disrespectful language; but, perhaps the most outrageous
claim used to target blacks was the allegations that black men were raping the white women.
Ida at the risk of her personal safety, investigated practically all the sexual assault claims pinned
against the black population and quickly discovered that virtually all of them were fallacious and
pure lies. Moreover, She also examined the psychological aspects of many of the claims
attacking blacks. Wells would soon broach the idea that white women were perhaps infatuated
and willing to give themselves sexually to black men. Concluding her remarks, fierce uproar
amongst whites were kindled. White anger became so hostile that she was forced into exile, and
moved away from the south. Wells would later return to the south thirty years later. It was during
her period of exile that she would write a piece on lynching. In one of her studies titled, Red
Record, Wells reported that during the year of 1894, one hundred and ninety seven people were
lynched with no opportunity to make a lawful defense.
Wells was extremely meticulous in gathering data to corroborate her studies on
lynching's. She would often use the white newspaper outlets in order to silence those who would
argue that her claims were false. Because of her work, Wells would end up reaching out to the
conscience of America. However, the press, the political establishments, the courts, and the
churches did not waver, they remained resistant in her efforts for social change. In her efforts to
be heard, Wells would soon carry her crusade to England.
Once settled in England, Wells would attempt to mobilize moral as well as economic
pressures abroad. She along with the help of England and Scottish women reforms soon
launched the London Anti Lynching Committee, the first anti lynching committee in the world.
Wells would often cite the brutal truth about lynching's to much of the England population
through her newsletters. She would then send those same news letters to the United States.
Because England was a critical source for America economically, and did not favor such
egregious practice such as lynching, the United States was forced to address the issue. Soon the
number of lynchings decreased; and for a period of two decades there was no report of lynching
Wells would face two ongoing battles as she progressed in her work -- racism as well as
sexism. She joined the suffragist movement and organized the Alpha-suffrage club, the first
black women’s suffragist group in Illinois. Moreover, she also campaigned with Susan B.
Anthony, Jane Addams and other female leaders. She would also join the radical movement
which was led by W.E.B DuBois, William Monroe Trotter, and herself. Ultimately, this group
would work to fight all forms of discrimination based on race. They were in complete
opposition to the accommodations movement, which was led by Booker T. Washington. This
group was eager not to offend the establishment that supported them, which were the white
population. Washington argued that a segregated society would protect black lives while
simultaneously generate jobs and self-reliance for blacks. Yet, Ida B. Wells would not
compromise nor back down from Booker T. Washington. Furthermore, she was part founder of
the NAACP, which used most of her anti lynching strategies.
In the end, Ida B. Wells was a pioneer in the black community. She pushed for racial,
social, political, and economical change for the betterment of black lives. Though she faced
much push back from whites and even her own people, Wells always maintained her resilience.
Her work has remained steadfast in the heart of American society even till today.