“The miscegenation laws of the South only operate against the legitimate union of the races; they leave the white man free to seduce all the colored girls he can, but it is death to the colored man who yields to the force and advances of a similar attraction in white women. 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.” ― Ida B. Wells-BarnettSouthern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

Ida B. Wells-Barnett

On March 25, 1931, Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, journalist and civil and women’s rights activist, died. Wells was born enslaved on July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She was freed after the end of the Civil War.

The murder of her friends sparked Wells’ interest in investigative journalism about lynching and becoming the leader of the anti-lynching crusade. In 1892, she published Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all Its Phases and in 1895 published A Red Record, 1892 – 1894, which documented lynchings since the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1893, Wells and other black leaders organized a boycott of the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to protest lynchings in the South. Wells was also significantly involved in the founding of the National Association of Colored Women, the National Afro-American Council, which later became the NAACP, and the Women’s Era Club, which was eventually renamed the Ida B. Wells Club. Wells spent the latter 30 years of her life working on urban reform in Chicago, Illinois. In 1990, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp in her honor. Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells was published in 1970.

The Akosua Report: Facts on The African Diaspora, is written by Akosua Lowery. Follow her on Twitter @AkosuaLowery.

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