Ida 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Her anti-lynching
Ida B. Wells was born a slave in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Her anti-lynching journey began when she was on a train ride in Tennessee and the conductor told her that she had to move to the train’s smoking car. Wells then refused and argued that she had purchased a first class ticket and had a right to sit where she was. She then decided to sue the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. At first the court had ruled in her favor and they rewarded her $500, but later the railroad company appealed and the Tennessee supreme court reversed their decision and ordered her to pay for court fees. After this incident, she began to write editorials in black newspapers that challenged the jim crow laws. She also bought a share of a Memphis newspaper to help get her opinions out, and to help advance African American rights. She later became a more vocal anti-lynching activist after the lynching of her three friends. Clavin McDowell, Thomas Moss, and Henry Stewart were three successful African American business owners in Memphis. The thought of these African American men being successful angered the white men across the street from their business, so the white men went to confront the African American men, but meanwhile during the altercation, some of the white men were injured. The three African Americans were arrested, and while in jail a white mob broke in and lynched the three men, thus making Ida B. Wells wanting to be more vocal about anti-lynching. Being against lynching also made her want to do more research and become an investigative journalist. During her research, she found that some victims of lynching have successfully challenged white authority and have been able to compete with some whites in business or politics. She published her research in pamphlets, such as Southern Horrors (1892) which detailed her findings, A Red Record (1895) which described her findings on the “rape myth” which was a system used to justify the lynching of African Americans, and Mob Rule in New Orleans which explained in great detail the events of a mob in New Orleans that went around searching for colored men and women who they beat, shot, and killed whenever they felt like it. Ida B. Wells also brought nationwide and international attention to lynching. She began to take this movement to England where she created the British Anti-Lynching Society in 1894. Ida B. Wells also brought to attention to the idea that African American women can still be raped. During this time many people believed that African American women could not be raped, and accused African American men of sexually assaulting white women, and these accusations could lead to mob violence and lynching. Ida B. Wells implied that “virtue knows no color” and that white men should treat African American women respectfully. Ida B Wells lastly, helped create the National Association of Colored Women, and she was also one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.