The name “Ida B. Wells” rang some long lost bell at the beginning of OC’s presentation on Tuesday. I could not remember where or under what circumstances I had previously heard this name, but clearly Ida was a woman of enough significance in our country to constantly stick in the back of my mind.
OC’s thoughtful reflection on why Ida is one of her role models made me appreciate why the name had rung a bell. Ida’s modern motivation to support any cause she saw worthy of her endorsement (not limited to women’s rights) was extremely rare for her time. I respect and envy her bravery and the initiatives she took even when told to back down and remain in “her place.” Those who told her to stop advocating for matters such as black rights, her freedom of speech (which she willingly employed in her paper, Memphis Free Speech), and her stance against white supremacy simply acted as motivators to fuel Ida’s fire.
Not many women of her time, especially those of color, would have dared to continue after all Ida suffered through. Even after being kicked out of the NAACP (which she constructed herself), and sent death threats on multiple occasions, Ida persevered. She was dead set on accomplishing what she set out to do: bring light to issues that were consistently pushed under the rug, and to advocate for the rights of blacks and other minorities. Regardless of her many failures and set backs, such as the hateful destruction of her Memphis Free Speech office, Ida set an example for women and men alike. Without fear, Ida saw what she wanted and did everything in her power to get it done.