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Ida B. Wells

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Ida B. Wells. July 16 , 1862- March 25, 1931 - She was a reformer for Racial Equality, mainly for blacks. Born in Mississippi, Ida was born months before the Emancipation Proclamation to a carpenter and a cook.

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ida b wells
Ida B. Wells

July16, 1862-March25,1931


  • Born in Mississippi, Ida was born months before the Emancipation Proclamation to a carpenter and a cook.
  • As a teen, she went to the Freedmen’s School Shaw University to study, but was expelled for rebellious behavior and confronting the President.
  • After her drop out, an epidemic ran through the Mississippi valley killing most of her family. She was forced to take in the children left behind. To keep her family together she became a teacher.

While Ida was teaching, she noticed the difference of pay between white teachers and black teachers, ($30 compared to $80) fueling her opposition of racial issues.

  • As she traveled to a new job, she was dragged from a train car to sit in the “Jim Crow” car reserved for blacks, though she purchased a first class ticket. She sued the railroad company and won the case, but later it was revoked and she had to pay back court fees.
    • This action and the murder (b6 lynching) of three of her businessmen friends because of their successful business finally started her movement on racial issues.

Ida occupied Memphis and became familiar with a literary society that wrote essays on subjects that interested them. She became a prominent member and soon took over the newspaper, shortening it to Free Speech.

She was threatened many times for her life because of the things she wrote in Free Speech and was hated my many people against equal rights, and to protect herself wrote under the name Iola after she left Chicago for the article of her dead friends lynching.