Today is President’s Day
According to officeholidays.com, the first President’s Day was celebrated on February 22, 1796, commemorate our first president, George Washington’s, birthday. In 1971, it was shifted to fall on the third Monday in February to simplify the yearly calendar and to give federal employees some standard three-day holidays. What are you doing to celebrate our nation’s presidents today?
Black History Month
With February being Black History Month, I’ll be focusing this month’s posts towards people and events that have shaped our country’s view of different races.
With our country struggling with racial relations, I will be focusing on the teen challenge of accepting diversity and inclusion of others who are different from ourselves.
Who was Ida B. Wells?
According to the book, Who was Ida B. Wells? by Sarah Fabiny, Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862. She was born into slavery but was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1865.
As a young girl, her father asked her to read the newspaper to him and his friends. Through reading, she became interested in writing. When she lost both of her parents to yellow fever in 1878, she was put in charge of raising her siblings while she became and made a living as a teacher.
After two years of teaching at the rural school, Ida received an opportunity from her Aunt Fannie to move to Memphis and teach in a city school. While teaching school during the week, Ida started editing and writing a newsletter called the Evening Star on the weekends. This opportunity led her to start writing for a weekly newspaper. Through these different opportunities, she was able to start her career as a journalist.
She wrote for and edited many newspapers and published pamphlets about issues that affected blacks during the time after Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in the 13th Amendment in 1865.
Her Anti-Lynching Pamphlets
Ida B. Wells was a Black American activist at a time when many Black Americans weren’t speaking up for their rights. She wasn’t just speaking up with her voice, but through her writing and publishing pamphlets about how blacks were being treated, The main focus of her pamphlets was about lynching.
Lynching – when someone is killed without a trial. Many times, black people would be killed because they are black. The punishment does not fit the crime.
This was in response to something that happened to a friend of hers, Thomas Moss, and two others. They were the victims of a lynching while serving time in jail for defending their grocery business, the Peoples Grocery. Here’s what happened…
A competing grocery across the street, owned by white men, were upset about how well the Peoples Grocery was doing. So, they sent a mob of people to ruin the store. Ida’s friends had to protect their business because they knew the cops wouldn’t help them. When they shot their guns off, three white men were injured. Moss and his friends were taken to jail, but they never made it to court, they were taken from jail and lynched.
I wrote a book review a couple of weeks ago about Death of Innocence which was about Emmett Till, a teen who was lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. This would be a great read to learn more about the human effects of lynching and racism. Here’s the link to that book review. Death of Innocence
The articles that she wrote about the lynching made many people in Memphis mad and Wells received threats. But that didn’t stop her from continuing to write about the injustices being served as is shown in her quote below.
What impact did she make on American History?
- She was a journalist, activist and researcher in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- She dedicated her life to fighting for equality of blacks, especially women
Inspiring woman in our country’s history
Ida B. Wells-Barnett wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about the social injustices taking place in our country towards Black Americans. Her skills in writing and connections as a journalist helped to voice her opinion in a time when newspapers were the main way that information was transferred to our country. She made her mark and was a key participant in the early part of the civil rights movement.
As a side note, Wells-Barnett was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in 2020 recognizing her as a journalist and her reports and publications about lynching.
If you would like to learn a little bit more about Ida B. Wells, here’s a link to the book I read to learn more about her. Who was Ida B. Wells? The author, Sarah Fabiny wrote several Who Was books about other interesting people in history. And there are many other books in this series written by other authors. Take a look and find another interesting person to read about.
The Hard Way
Having friends that support us and have our backs is important throughout our lives. It is very important for teens to pick friends who will support and help them through those tough teen years. Looking for a good teen or young adult read about it? Here’s a link to The Hard Way. Be sure to check it out.
Have a great week!