At a very young age, Ida B. Wells had the heart and perseverance to take the system head-on.
In the late 1800s, during a train ride from work one day the conductor informed her she had to move to the train‘s smoking car to make room for a white customer. Wells refused, stating that she had purchased a first class ticket and wasn’t moving.
The conductor and other customers began attempting to physically remove her from the train. Ultimately, she sued the Ohio Railway Company and won. The treatment she underwent that day would leave a lasting effect on young Ida B. Wells, driving her to jump into action.
Mrs. Wells began writing editorials in black newspapers challenging Jim Crow laws in the south. She purchased a share of a Memphis newspaper, The free speech headlight, utilizing the paper to further the cause of liberating black people in America.
After the lynching of three of her friends in 1892, she became one of the most vocal anti-lynching activists in the nation. In 1892, through her lectures and books, she effectively combatted the “rape myth” used by lynch mobs to justify lynching black citizens.
As a result of her outspokenness, a mob destroyed the offices of her newspaper and threatened to kill her. In 1894, she fled Memphis for England and established the British anti-lynching society. Wells was also one of the founding members of the N.A.A.C.P.