Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Unjust? Expose It.
The name, Ida B. Wells has been mentioned throughout different classes as I grew up but I never got a grasp of who she was or what she truly accomplished. First off, I was impressed by the way she grew up in the late 1800's. It was uncommon for a black woman to go to college. Since being orphaned as a teen, she had always been a very independent woman, unafraid of backlash or dislike from the society around her.
The three reasons Ms. O'Connell presented for loving Ida B. Wells stuck to me and made me like her as well. The train incident she experienced in 1884 was humorous yet a sign of her strong character. She knew it was her right, after the Civil Rights Act, to sit wherever she liked on the train. Ida B. Wells picked up her pen as a journalist when she knew of a lynching incident. A couple of friends of hers were lynched after "causing a disturbance". Basically, white store owners felt threatened by the black male's growing business. That is all. Ida B. Wells, being the strong woman she is, seeking African American rights, began her writing crusade. She was a muckraker, as a journalists she wrote to expose social lies, injustices, lynching incidents and stereotypes against blacks (many of which are still around today). She knew this would come with serious backlash and even had to leave Memphis after serious threats.
From the reading, I was able to understand the recurring theme of her writing. White men of her time, feared one thing other than blacks gaining powers, and that was black men get back at whites through their white women. Wells wrote multiple entries on the issue of black men constantly being accused of raping white women and later being arrested or lynched because of this. She wrote, "White men lynch the offending Afro-American, not because he is a despoiler of virtue, but because he succumbs to the smiles of white women." After OC's presentation, I couldn't agree with this statement more. But as OC said, "It takes two to tango." In the handouts, Wells explained how many women would cry 'rape' to their husbands as soon as they were discovered having relations with white men, just to save their reputation.
It was great learning about Ida B. Wells and the reasons why she was one of OC's role models. As many women in history, her work is a bit overlooked. She should be admired for her fearless attitude and desire to stand for whats right no matter who stood behind her. She was a lone soldier and worked to expose the malice of her times and I am glad she did because if she hadn't, the white journalists sure wouldn't. She lived in times of horror for blacks and although things did not get better years soon after that, she still brought these issues to light whether the society around her wanted it or not.
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