Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells is another unsung hero of her time, although she was mentioned a few times in my past academic career we never spent much time on her efforts or background. After OC's presentation I too found myself a fan of Wells, I found her story so inspiring. Despite the fact that both her parents died when she was a teen, Ida became a teacher and attended college, twice! She is a fine example of believing in yourself and following your dreams no matter what anyone tells you.

One of the reasons why OC loves Ida is because of the train incident of 1884. Although it is unknown as to how Ida had a first class seat on the train, she sits down with white people and is asked to leave. Wells refuses and is forced to the back of the train when she bites the conductor! I found this very comical but it also shows that she is reluctant to listen to what is the norm of her society, she stood up for herself.

In 1889 Wells becomes a journalist and widely express her rare and brave views. In The Offense, Ida attacks accusations and stereotypes white men placed on African Americans back in their time. A quote we read in class and something that can be found in the document we were sent was, "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." White men feared black men because they had freedom of the plantation and they took it.

Her writings condemn the violent lynchings that were taking place and incites violence. Wells attacked the Antebellum society that people of her time knew so well. Plantation owners became surprised when the slaves left because they seemed happy but out of spite turned their newly found freedom into something negative and frightening. Uncle Tom's became savages and the impression was that their only goal in life is to ravage their white women. If a white woman was caught with a black man, he would be lynched and the affair would've been considered rape.

Ida B. Wells attacked these stereotypes of her time with her writing. Although she is free to write what she pleases because of freedom of speech she was often criticized and assaulted for her views. Even though she helped create the NAACP, Wells withdrew because it was not militant enough and because she criticized mainstream black ministers for accepting racial injustices. Ida B. Wells is inspiring because she wrote and expressed her views so strongly during one of the most dangerous times for African Americans.

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