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Profile of the Day: Ida B. Wells

On this day in 1862, investigative journalist, educator, and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells was born.

Image: Ida B. Wells / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Wells was born into slavery on July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi to James Maddison Wells and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Warrenton. After emancipation, her father was a trustee of Shaw College (today Rust College), a school for the newly freed enslaved people. Wells attended the school until she was forced to drop out at 16 when her parents and brother died during an outbreak of yellow fever. To help take care of her younger siblings, Wells landed a job as a teacher.

She soon became increasingly active as a journalist and in 1889, Wells became the editor and co-owner of The Free Speech and Headlight. Wells wrote a number of articles regarding issues of race, education, and politics in the South. In 1892, she turned her attention to anti-lynching after a friend and two of his business associates were murdered. For months, Wells traveled throughout the South investigating lynchings and wrote several detailed editorials about her findings.

An early leader of the civil rights movement, Wells was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was also a passionate advocate of women’s rights and suffrage. She founded a number of clubs and organizations, including the Alpha Suffrage Club, the first suffrage club for Black women.

Wells died on March 25, 1931 at the age of 68.

Explore Ida B. Wells’s family tree on Geni and discover your connection to the legendary activist.

View Ida B. Wells’s Geni Profile

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The post Profile of the Day: Ida B. Wells first appeared on The Geni Blog.


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