For Black History Month, A More Perfect Blog will feature profiles of influential and heroic African-American leaders from our middle school curriculum, Being An American: Exploring the Ideals That Unite Us. Use the profiles to start a class discussion on what makes a hero and how each of the people we describe is heroic.
Ida B. Wells worked to bring national attention to ending the injustice of lynching. Wells was born in Mississippi in 1862, the oldest of eight children. Her parents died when she was 14, and she raised her younger siblings herself. She put herself through college and became a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee.
In 1892, Wells lost three close friends to a lynch mob. These gruesome killings made headlines, but no one was arrested or charged. As a journalist and a newspaper owner and editor, Wells courageously wrote about the racism that motivated such murders. The press attacked her as a “black scoundrel.” A mob ransacked her office and threatened her life, but she continued to speak the truth about lynching.
Wells later moved to Chicago where she published The Red Record, the first documented statistical report on lynching. She became a respected public speaker, and traveled widely. She co-founded the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (NAACP) in 1909. Ida B. Well’s courage and perseverance helped end an on-going injustice and brought about important change in the United States.