Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Know Ida B. Wells, You're Standing On Her Shoulders

Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, 1930.[Credits : Chicago Historical Society,]

"Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob." -- Ida B. Wells

"If this work can contribute in any way toward proving this, and at the same time arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen, and punishment by law for the lawless, I shall feel I have done my race a service."-- Ida B. Wells

Listen up. Today, the daddy is feeling Ida B. Wells. He knows you've heard some but not enough of her. He knows you've heard that she was an activist in the latter part of the 19 century and after. He knows you've heard that she helped found the NAACP and that a lot of schools and streets, even housing projects, were named after her. That's all nice, isn't it?

But the daddy has a sneaky impression that some of you don't want to know more. Why? Because some of you have heard that, first and foremost, she became famous not for starting the NAACP but for fighting against one of America's most despicable practices, a practice that ensured that black citizens remained shackled and beaten down and continuously terrorized after reconstruction -- lynching.

No, you don't want to go there. You don't want to deal with this time in history: the period after the 1870's when the Hayes/Tilden agreement dropped, when the North not only failed to provide blacks "40 acres and a mule" but delivered them wholesale back into the cruel hands of southern plantation owners and white vigilantes if they dared resist their new form of re-enslavement, the sharecropping system. Some historians called this period "the black Nair," perhaps the worst period in African American history.


Born on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Missouri. Risking her own life, Ida B. Wells-Barnett spent much of her time fighting against injustice. And she was ready. She attended Rust College after emancipation and taught about injustice. Indeed, she was fired for writing about injustice, including segregated schools in Memphis, Tennessee.

In 1892, she was criticized for having the nerve to criticize the unique but prevalent torture technique of lynching against Blacks. For writing and publishing these articles, she was threatened so often that she had to leave Memphis. She moved to the Northeast and became well-known for taking up the cause against lynching.

Even after marriage (1895), after serving as secretary of the National Afro-American Council (1902), after helping found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1910), she continued to speak out against lynching and for justice. Like W.E.Dubois would do later with the NAACP, she left these organizations because she felt they were too conservative. Indeed, Dubois was criticized by the NAACP for writing an editorial against lynching as well.

She also campaigned for women's suffrage. An interesting facet of her life is that she often went to a conference and make a fiery speech to black men about their sexism and then go to another conference and make a fiery speech to white women about their racism.


Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who was best known as a warrior against lynching but who was fighter against all forms of sexism and racism as well, died on March 25, 1931. After Frederick Douglass said "If there is no struggle, there is no progress" and long before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said he was "a drum major for justice," Ida B. Wells-Barnett marched and struggled for justice.

Know your political Black history. Know Ida B. Wells. After all, you're standing on her shoulders.


Anonymous said...

I learned about her in elementary school.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Great profile Daddy. I learned about her in grad school.
One of the things that sparked her was the assault on black owned businesses. Seemed the white merchants wanted ALL the black dollars so they decided to go to war against black businesses by burning and of course, lynching the owners.
She actually went to Washington and pleaded with congress and the rpesident to enact a federal anti-lynching law.
She was an educated, intellectual, well bred sophistocated lady, well beyond the mental borders of those who tried to oppress her. . . which is almost always the sad irony of such stories.

rainywalker said...

daddyBstrong you have hit on an individual, Ida B. Wells that we need more of today. When I was a kid we had them on the corners passing out policitial tracks, speaking out on all forms of wrongdoing and talking to everyone that would listen. Those there today have their hand out and I'm not talking about the poor and homeless.
They want something and aren't passing out knowledge that will make our country better. Some were black some were white, but I miss them all.

MacDaddy said...

Anon1: You say you read about her in elementary school. You probably went to a black, or predominantly black, school. Unfortunately, a lot of non-black people didn't read about her-ever. So we have to make some readers aware of her.

Sagacious: Your story is one of many. And for all the people who say blacks just concentrate on sports and don't do anything to "pick themselves up by their own bootstraps," don't know African American history. Black history is replete with stories of blacks being run out of town, when their businesses became, or started to become, successful. In fact, that was one of the uses of lynching: to beat back those blacks with inspiration to be successful in business. There is a documentary called "Banishment" that talks about this.

Rainy: As a former member of The Nation of Islam, Malcom X's organization, I was one of those people out in the streets, hawking papers and talking about Black history...I miss them too.

Jay said...

Dr. King Deserves Better in Charlotte, NC!