Ida B. Wells/ Women's Rights

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Ida B. Wells was an African American speaker, crusader, suffragist, journalist, and women’s rights advocate. She is simply one of our nations most prominent leaders in the fight for civil rights and democracy, not only for blacks and for women, but for everyone. Born in 1862 in Holy Springs, Mississippi, the groundwork for Ida to become a leader would be laid at an early age. Even though enslaved prior to the Civil War, Ida’s parents (her mother a well known cook and her father a skilled carpenter) were still able to support their seven children. Her father James, himself, was an African American activist who was also very interested in politics. He attended public speeches and supported local black candidates. Ida’s mother Elizabeth, was a very religious and strict woman. Together, James and Elizabeth stressed how important education was to their children, believing that knowledge was the key to advancement and success in America post- Emancipation Proclamation. At the tender age of 14, an epidemic of yellow fever would sweep through Ida’s hometown of Holy Springs, killing both of her parents and youngest sibling. Having already been fueled by the fortitude instilled in her by her parents, Ida took on the responsibility of keeping her family together by becoming a teacher, as well as attending school at Rust College, a freedmen’s school in Holy Springs that still stands as an HBCU (Historically Black College/University) today. She would eventually moved to Memphis, Tennessee to live with an aunt and help raise her youngest sisters, where she would continue teaching and going to school. It is also in Memphis where Ida would begin her fight for both racial and gender equality. In 1884, Wells was ordered by the conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat (which was in a “colored only” car) to a white man and to move to the smoking (or “Jim

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