Jul. 16, 2020

Why Reparations? July 16, 1862 "Ida Belle Wells-Barnett Birthday" Celebrating This Fearless Warrior

Ida Belle Wells Barnett was born on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Before any college, or university started to catalog the lynching of blacks in America. Ida Wells was the vocal opponent of the rule of the white mob violence that was inflicted on blacks throughout this nation. Before Tuskegee Institute's renowned historical collection of the murders of blacks due to lynching, Ida Belle Wells-Barnett was front and center laying her life on the line to expose this injustice. Now we have Bryan Stevenson's memorable work that details the over 4400 lynchings that occurred from 1876-1964. It includes a memorial that pays tribute to those who lost their lives in this horrendous manner. Yet, there stood Ida Belle Wells-Barnett advocating for justice in a Jim Crow'ed America.

Our black history need not ever be a black mystery. In the late 19th century, and early 20th century there lived a black woman who stood up firmly against murderous injustice. Ida Belle Wells-Barnett was a newspaper publisher of truth and an ultimate defender of human, civil and social justice for Americans of African Descent. Once ancestor Wells dedicated herself to the issue of murderous acts of lynching. She worked tirelessly to ensure that it would be defeated by any means necessary.

Ida Well Barnett sought out to expose those black men, women, and children who were hanging like strange fruits from trees or being roasted alive like meat on a grill. These atrocious acts simply because of the color of their skins. Ida Wells couldn't live with herself without speaking out against these terrorist activities being perpetrated by white people in this country. Ida Wells-Barnett placed her life on the line to bring these horrendous crimes from the beneath the veil of hatred and indignation.

In today's salute, I bring you a speech that Ida Wells-Barnett gave in Chicago, which came to be her second home, in 1900 about the lynch laws in the United States. This wasn't an easy subject to broach during that period but Ida Wells-Barnett wasn't afraid to confront injustice head-on. She saw her purpose as a battle against those who sought to destroy the humanity and lives of Americans of African Descent.

Throughout most of her adult life, Ida Wells-Barnett fought to make visible the most despicable acts of violence perpetrated on our black ancestors. While Mrs. Wells-Barnett fought to put a light on these atrocities​ much of America attempted to keep these acts of violence darkened and forgotten. The Blackman Who Reads Aloud brings you today the words of Ida Belle Wells-Barnett on the anniversary of her birth 157 years ago today.​