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Ida B. Wells: How Post-Civil War Atrocities Transformed Her Hope into Activism

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Abstract:

Born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi during the Civil War in 1862, Ida B. Wells’ freedom was uncertain. Depending on the results of the war, she might have remained a slave. But when she was three years old slavery officially ended and she was among the first generation of former slaves in the South who had the opportunity to become formally educated. Ida came of age during Reconstruction, which was a time of struggle, but also progress, hope and opportunity for former slaves. But this progress was followed by backlash, discrimination and terrorism. She began her career as a teacher, and got her journalism start by writing for church newspapers. She became part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper, and used the press to document the inequalities and discrimination she experienced and witnessed. As a result of injustices that occurred to her personally and people she knew in the community, she became more impassioned about the topics she covered and began down the road of investigative journalism. When a stunningly brutal lynching of her friends took place in Memphis, she wrote articles that encouraged migration and boycotts as a way for the African American community to exercise their power. As a result of her continued exposure of the truth that dispelled the reasons given for lynching, she found herself in great personal danger and at the beginning of her unrelenting crusade for justice. Ida found herself exiled from the South, which furthered her determination to research, document and publish the facts about the violence and lawlessness that was perpetrated on African American communities. The details of her writings expanded from newspaper articles to self-published pamphlets that included exact numbers and gruesome details of lynchings that took place in the United States between 1892 – 1900. She wrote a section of The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition and distributed the pamphlets outside the gates of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Her most well-known pamphlets include Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, A Red Record, and Mob Rule in New Orleans. Her detailed writing about lynching led to speaking engagements all across the United States and two speaking tours in the United Kingdom. Her focus, passion and tenacity brought international attention to the horror of lynching and helped influence the pressure to put a stop to it.

Michelle Duster is a writer, speaker, project manager and artist with over 20 years of experience in advertising and marketing. In the past three years she has compiled and written two books that include the original writing of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells – journalist, civil rights activist and suffragist. Ida In Her Own Words (BW Publishing, 2008) includes Ida’s section of the 1893 pamphlet The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition and Ida From Abroad (BW Publishing, 2010) includes The Daily Inter Ocean newspaper articles Ida wrote from England during her second speaking tour in 1894.

Michelle is involved in several projects named after Ida B. Wells including a scholarship fund at Rust College (Ida’s alma mater) and a museum in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She is also a member of committee in Chicago, which is developing a multi-dimensional piece of art that will capture the life and times of her great-grandmother.
 
A native Chicagoan, Michelle earned her B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth College, an M.A. in Communications from the New School for Social Research, and studied film and video production at Columbia College in Chicago.
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Name: 96th Annual Convention
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http://www.asalh.org


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MLA Citation:

Duster, Michelle. "Ida B. Wells: How Post-Civil War Atrocities Transformed Her Hope into Activism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA, <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519352_index.html>

APA Citation:

Duster, M. "Ida B. Wells: How Post-Civil War Atrocities Transformed Her Hope into Activism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 96th Annual Convention, TBA, Richmond, VA <Not Available>. 2014-11-25 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p519352_index.html

Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: Born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi during the Civil War in 1862, Ida B. Wells’ freedom was uncertain. Depending on the results of the war, she might have remained a slave. But when she was three years old slavery officially ended and she was among the first generation of former slaves in the South who had the opportunity to become formally educated. Ida came of age during Reconstruction, which was a time of struggle, but also progress, hope and opportunity for former slaves. But this progress was followed by backlash, discrimination and terrorism. She began her career as a teacher, and got her journalism start by writing for church newspapers. She became part-owner of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper, and used the press to document the inequalities and discrimination she experienced and witnessed. As a result of injustices that occurred to her personally and people she knew in the community, she became more impassioned about the topics she covered and began down the road of investigative journalism. When a stunningly brutal lynching of her friends took place in Memphis, she wrote articles that encouraged migration and boycotts as a way for the African American community to exercise their power. As a result of her continued exposure of the truth that dispelled the reasons given for lynching, she found herself in great personal danger and at the beginning of her unrelenting crusade for justice. Ida found herself exiled from the South, which furthered her determination to research, document and publish the facts about the violence and lawlessness that was perpetrated on African American communities. The details of her writings expanded from newspaper articles to self-published pamphlets that included exact numbers and gruesome details of lynchings that took place in the United States between 1892 – 1900. She wrote a section of The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition and distributed the pamphlets outside the gates of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Her most well-known pamphlets include Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases, A Red Record, and Mob Rule in New Orleans. Her detailed writing about lynching led to speaking engagements all across the United States and two speaking tours in the United Kingdom. Her focus, passion and tenacity brought international attention to the horror of lynching and helped influence the pressure to put a stop to it.

Michelle Duster is a writer, speaker, project manager and artist with over 20 years of experience in advertising and marketing. In the past three years she has compiled and written two books that include the original writing of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells – journalist, civil rights activist and suffragist. Ida In Her Own Words (BW Publishing, 2008) includes Ida’s section of the 1893 pamphlet The Reason Why the Colored American is not in the World’s Columbian Exposition and Ida From Abroad (BW Publishing, 2010) includes The Daily Inter Ocean newspaper articles Ida wrote from England during her second speaking tour in 1894.

Michelle is involved in several projects named after Ida B. Wells including a scholarship fund at Rust College (Ida’s alma mater) and a museum in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She is also a member of committee in Chicago, which is developing a multi-dimensional piece of art that will capture the life and times of her great-grandmother.
 
A native Chicagoan, Michelle earned her B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth College, an M.A. in Communications from the New School for Social Research, and studied film and video production at Columbia College in Chicago.


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