ida b wells barnett

Fearless Journalist and All-Round Badass - Ida B. Wells-Barnett.  (1862-1931)

Born a slave, Ida B. Wells was a pioneering black woman who used journalism to stand up against white supremacy and segregation and who led an anti-lynching crusade in the 1890s.   She was a writer and editor, a suffragist and an early leader in the civil rights movement.

Wells-Barnett is also known for her rally cry, “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”

Artist not listed

Black History Month 2017

Planned Parenthood strives to create a world where sexual and reproductive health care is accessible, affordable, and compassionate — no matter what.

Black women have always championed reproductive freedom and the elimination of racism and sexism as an essential element of the struggle toward civil rights. This Black History Month, Planned Parenthood honors the resilience of Black women like Dr. N. Louise Young and Dr. Thelma Patten Law,  two of the first Black women health care providers at Planned Parenthood — and the resistance of women like Angela Davis who continue to fight for the full dignity, autonomy and the humanity of all women.

In commemoration of Black History Month each year, we lift up and celebrate those who have defied their time and circumstances to become Dream Keepers and freedom fighters. #100YearsStrong of Planned Parenthood could not be possible without the vision, tenacity and determination of those who have kept and protected the dream of reproductive freedom, justice and autonomy.

The 2017 Dream Keepers

Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Journalist, Civil Rights Activist

Ida B. Wells-Barnett was the most prominent Black woman journalist of the late 19th and early 20th century. Her research and reporting around the lynching of Black people helped to bring national attention to the crisis and pushed federal legislation to hold mobs accountable.

Marsha P. Johnson
Activist, Stonewall Rioter

Marsha P. Johnson, co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), is credited with being one of the first people to resist the police during the Stonewall Riots of 1969. On the commemorative anniversary of the riots in 1970, Johnson led protesters to the Women’s Detention Center of New York chanting, “Free our sisters. Free ourselves,” which demonstrated early solidarity between LGBTQ rights and anti-prison movements.

Former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm
Black Feminist, Former Presidential Candidate

In 1990, Shirley Chisholm — along with former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Faye Wattleton, Byllye Avery, Donna Brazile, Dorothy Height, Maxine Waters, and Julianne Malveaux (among others) — formed the group African American Women for Reproductive Freedom to show their support for Roe v. Wade, doing so with what we now call a reproductive -justice framework. The former New York representative was the first African American woman elected to Congress. During her seven terms, Rep. Chisholm pioneered the Congressional Black Caucus and was an unwavering champion for women’s reproductive rights and access to health care, including abortion. In 2015, President Obama awarded Rep. Chisholm with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award.

Dr. N. Louise Young

Dr. N. Louise Young, a gynecologist and obstetrician, opened her practice in Baltimore in 1932. She later operated a Planned Parenthood health center that was opened with the assistance of the local Urban League and other community partners.

Dr. Thelma Patten Law

Dr. Thelma Patten Law becomes one of the first Black women ob-gyns in Texas. She provided health care for more than 25 years at the Planned Parenthood Houston Health Center, which opened in 1936.

Faye Wattleton
Author, Advocate for Reproductive Freedom, Former President of PPFA

In 1978, Wattleton became the youngest individual at the time and the first African American woman to serve as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). During Wattleton’s 14–year tenure, PPFA became one of the nation’s largest charitable organizations. Under Wattleton’s leadership, the organization secured federal funding for birth control and prenatal programs; fought against efforts to restrict legal abortions; and, along with reproductive health allies, helped to legalize the sale of abortion pill RU-486 in the United States.

The Coiners of Reproductive Justice

Black women’s existence has inherently challenged the “choice vs. life” argument. However the creation and coining of reproductive justice ushered in a new framework where women of color could express all of the ways their sexual and reproductive autonomy is systemically limited.

Dr. Dorothy Roberts
Author, Scholar, Professor

Dorothy Roberts is an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law. Her books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997) — all of which have shaped and informed scholarship around reproductive justice.


Monica Roberts
Historian, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of TransGriot

Monica Roberts, aka the TransGriot, is a native Houstonian and trailblazing trans community leader. She works diligently at educating and encouraging acceptance of trans people inside and outside the larger African-American community and is an award-winning blogger, history buff, thinker, lecturer and passionate advocate on trans issues.

Dr. Iva Carruthers
Past President of Urban Outreach Foundation, General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference

Carruthers uses her ministry as a vehicle for addressing social issues, particularly those involving people of African descent both in the United States and abroad. She is past president of the Urban Outreach Foundation, a nonprofit, interdenominational organization that assists African and African-American communities with education, health care, and community development.


Rev. Dr. Alethea Smith-Withers
Founder and Pastor; The Pavilion of God, Washington, DC; and Chair of the Board of Directors for Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Rev. Smith-Withers has been an active advocate for reproductive justice for many years. She is currently serving as the chair of the board of directors of Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). She is the founder and pastor of The Pavilion of God, a Baptist Church in DC.  She hosts “Rev UP with Rev. Alethea”, a BlogTalkRadio show.


Rev. Dr. Susan Moore
Associate Minister at All Souls Church Unitarian

Dr. Moore’s ministry has focused upon the challenges facing urban America. An HIV/AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention educator and trainer, she has worked with several community and faith-based groups, including the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Planned Parenthood, and AIDS Action Foundation. She actively advocates for a national, coordinated AIDS strategy to reduce racial disparities, lower the incidence of infection, increase access to care, and involve all stakeholders.

Bevy Smith
CEO and Founder of Dinner with Bevy

A Harlem native and New York fashion fixture, Smith is outspoken about women’s empowerment and social justice. She gives back by connecting and engaging a network of top leaders to promote social change.


Mara Brock Akil
Screenwriter and producer and founder of Akil Productions

Mara Brock Akil is the co-creator of hit TV shows Girlfriends, The Game, and Being Mary Jane.  She is a tireless advocate of women’s health and rights.


Tracy Reese
American fashion designer

Relentless PPFA supporter, Reese is a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.


Kimberlé W. Crenshaw
Scholar, Professor at the UCLA and Columbia Schools of Law

Kimberlé W. Crenshaw is a feminist scholar and writer who coined the term “Intersectionality.” Kimberlé  is the co-founder of the African American Policy Forum, which developed seminal research on Black women and girls and the school-to-prison pipeline and policing, including, respectively: “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected” and “Say Her Name.”


Angela Peoples
Co-Director of GetEqual

Serving as the Co-Director of GetEqual, Angela is working to ensure that Black lives and gender justice is a guiding force in LGBTQ work.


Jazmine Walker
Reproductive Justice Leader

Jazmine is a big fine woman who specializes in reproductive justice and agricultural economic development.

Her dedication to public scholarship and activism is driven by a passion to amplify feminist and reproductive justice discourse around Black women and girls, especially those in Mississippi and the broader South.

Amandla Stenberg
Actress, Author

This Black queer feminist makes us look forward to the next generation of feminist leaders and thinkers.

Her YouTube video, “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows,” clapped-back against the cultural appropriation of Black fashion and style and won our hearts.


Charlene A. Carruthers
National Director for Black Youth Project 100

Political organizer Carruthers is building a national network and local teams of young Black activists.  She is committed to racial justice, feminism, and youth leadership development.


Monica Simpson
Executive Director of SisterSong National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

At SisterSong National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Simpson works to amplify and strengthen the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to ensure reproductive justice through securing human rights. She has organized extensively against the systematic physical and emotional violence inflicted upon the minds, bodies, and spirits of African Americans with an emphasis on African-American women and the African-American LGBT community.


Deon Haywood
Executive Director, Women With A Vision, Inc.

Haywood works tirelessly to improve quality of life and health outcomes for marginalized women of color.  Since Hurricane Katrina, Haywood has led Women With a Vision, a New Orleans-based community organization addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities.  


Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee
Congresswoman, D-TX 18th District

Congresswoman Jackson Lee has been a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood and women’s health.

This year she has become a valuable champion as a member of the House Judiciary Committee, where she was vocal at both hearings displaying a clear understanding of the important role Planned Parenthood health centers play in the communities they serve. She also came to the floor on several occasions and attended a Planned Parenthood’s press conference, lending her voice in the fight against backwards legislation.


Del. Stacey Plaskett
Congresswoman, D-US-VI

Delegate Stacey Plaskett became a supporter of Planned Parenthood this year when she spoke out for Planned Parenthood health center patients during a Oversight and Government Reform hearing, where she is a member, commenting that she would like a Planned Parenthood health center in the Virgin Islands.


Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton
Congresswoman, D-DC

As a fierce, passionate, Black feminist and reproductive health advocate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has supported Planned Parenthood unwaveringly. She also sponsored the EACH Woman Act and, in 2015, held an event with young women on abortion access.


Rep. Joyce Beatty
Congresswoman, D-OH 3rd District

Rep. Beatty has been an active supporter of women’s health during her tenure in Congress, cosponsoring legislation, signing onto pro-letters and always voting in the interest of women’s health.

Rep. Maxine Waters
Congresswoman, D-CA 43rd District

Since arriving in office in 1990, Rep. Waters has voted in the best interest of the health of women and communities of color, making a career of addressing these issues by closing the wealth gap.    

A Voice for the Voiceless: The Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Photo: Ida B. Wells Barnett, in a photograph by Mary Garrity from c. 1893.

Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery in 1862 and emancipated by the Union Army six months later. She leaves behind a legacy as a voice for the voiceless, as one of our nation’s foremost critics of a racial injustice and a journalistic champion of the truth.  

Her family was very active during the Reconstruction period and members of the Republican Party. Her father, James Wells helped to found Shaw University in North Carolina. After a tragic illness, Wells lost her parents and moved to Memphis, TN. She began her career in activism early as a student at Fisk University.

 In 1884, after refusing to give up her seat on a train to a white patron, she was forcibly removed and later sued the railroad. She initially won a $500 settlement, but the ruling was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court. 

This was her “aha” moment where she began her one woman crusade for injustice. Wells turned to writing and began chronicling issues of race and politics in the Deep South. Under the name “lola,” Wells became a leading voice on issues of racial injustice and eventually owned three newspapers including;  Memphis Free Speech, Headlight and the Free Speech.

In addition to her civil rights work, Wells also worked as a teacher in a segregated school. Her work there led her to attack the system of segregation and her vocal displeasure eventually got her fired. 

However, it was the deaths of Tom Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart—three African American business owners in Memphis—that ignited her charge to take on lynching. Moss, McDowell and Stewart were killed after they opened a grocery store that directly competed with a white-owned store and drove business away. 

“Our country’s national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.” —Ida B. Wells

Photo: Ida B. Wells (author), Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, book cover, 1892.

In response, Wells traveled the South gathering records of lynchings and wrote  “Southern Horrors: Lynch Laws in All its Phases” in 1892. Her reports outraged southern whites and she was never able to return to Memphis. The next year she published “A Red Record,” a personal reflection on the lynching crisis and spoke around the world about the atrocities going on in the United States. 

Segregation remained a cause close to her heart and Wells authored a response to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition decision to ban black exhibitors. 

She wrote: 

“The exhibit of the progress made by a race in 25 years of freedom as against 250 years of slavery, would have been the greatest tribute to the greatness and progressiveness of American institutions which could have been shown the world. The colored people of this great Republic number eight millions – more than one-tenth the whole population of the United States.” Ida B. Wells,  “The Reason Why the Colored American Is Represented in the World’s Columbian Exposition.”

In 1898 she took her anti-lynching campaign all the way to the White House, urging President William McKinley to act to save black lives. Although several bills would be introduced, the United States has never explicitly outlawed lynching. 

Photo: This is a flyer created by the NAACP in 1922 to raise awareness about the lynching epidemic that was occurring and the proposed Dyer anti-lynching bill.

To Do List For My People: While We Still Can

1. Spruce up that resume. Follow @kimreesesdaughter for those resume finesse skills. Do this ESPECIALLY if you’ve got a good government job. 

2. Get your passport, or help someone else get one. They’re not cheap. 

3. Pick up a survival skill. These include money-saving skills like using leftovers wisely all the way up to building fires and hunting. 

4. If you have the cash, get a rifle. You may not need a permit for one you keep in your house. CHECK YOUR STATE’S REGULATIONS.

5. Beef up your personal security, online and off. Get a secure email address. (A friend of mine just got Proton Mail.) Get a VPN. You can get door and window alarms that will make a loud sound without calling the police. 

6. Buy Black. If Cheeto Satan can cut government departments and put in judges that will ignore discrimination, then it will be Black-owned businesses that will hire, pay and promote us when others won’t. 

7. Remember that marching in the streets is an essential part of resistance, but not the sole means of resistance. Black joy is resistance. Black love is resistance. Black beauty is resistance. Black humor is resistance. Black excellence is resistance. Black existence is resistance. 

“…if it were possible would gather my race in my arms and fly far away with them…”  Ida B. Wells-Barnett


The National Association of Colored Women is an organization that predates the NAACP and was founded in response to vicious attacks on the character of African-American women by Southern journalist, combined with the spread of disfranchisement, lynching, and segregation, and the desire to “uplift” the race, black women organized a club movement that led to the formation NACW in Washington, D.C. in 1896.The organization’s founders included some of the most renowned African-American women educators, community leaders, and civil-rights activists in America, including: Harriet Tubman, Frances E.W. Harper, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Margaret Murray Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell, who became the organization’s first president.

The NACW adopted the motto “Lifting as We Climb." 

The NACW wanted to improve the lives of impoverished African Americans. Terrell stated in her first presidential address in 1897, "The work which we hope to accomplish can be done better, we believe, by the mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters of our race than by the fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons.” Her agenda for the organization focused on job training, wage equity, and child-care. The NACW also called public attention to issues such as lynching, peonage, prison conditions, and segregated transportation. 

The organization helped women and children suffering from poor health, lack of education, decent clothing, and housing. It raised funds for kindergartens, vocational schools, summer camps, and homes for the elderly. It also adopted an elitist attitude saying, that it was the responsibility of “privileged” to help those who were “socially inferior”; some felt that the habits of poor blacks gave the race a bad name. The NACW not only supported the right of black men and women to vote, but supported the women’s suffrage movement two years before the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, a club organization for white women. The NACW helped mobilize voter registration drives for blacks on a local level. It also promoted cultural events, including music concerts and poetry readings. By 1916, the organization had 300 clubs as members. Its high point of activity was in the 1920s and 1930s, after which it began to decline.- Richard Wormser

“More Sinned against than Sinning”

Ida B. Wells-Barnett* was born a slave in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. When her parents died, she became a teacher to take care of her many siblings and continued her education at Rust College. She soon moved to Memphis where she taught in segregated schools. 

At the age of 22, ten years before Plessy v. Ferguson was decided, Wells-Barnett sat in the “white” car of a train. When she refused to move at the conductor’s request, he grabbed her by the arm. She bit his hand, and it took two more men to physically remove her from her seat. She successfully sued the train company, but the trial court’s decision was overturned by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

This experience attracted the attention of local newspapers, and she became a journalist herself, ultimately becoming the co-owner and editor of a black publication, The Free Speech and Headlight. In her articles, she investigated and criticized racial injustices like school segregation and lynchings and encouraged activism in the black community. She explored the incidence of lynching across the South and the motivations behind those murders. She began to challenge the accepted excuses given by white lynch mobs and charged white women with encouraging relationships with black men. In 1892, her investigations were published in Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. After three of her friends were lynched, she encouraged black people in Memphis to boycott white businesses and move out of the city. She herself was forced out when the newspaper’s offices were burned down by white opponents. She moved to New York City then to Chicago, where she continued her career in journalism.

Wells-Barnett was involved in the early suffragist efforts and worked with white women like Frances E. Willard and Susan B. Anthony. Conflict arose, however, when the white suffragettes revealed their racist views and refused to help her in her anti-lynching cause. She founded the National Association of Colored Women in 1896 and continued to raise awareness about lynching. Though she was a founding member of the NAACP, she eventually left the organization, dissatisfied with their hesitance to take real action on issues. In 1930, the year before she died, she ran for a seat in the Illinois state legislature, becoming one of the first black women to run for office in the United States.

*Wells-Barnett hyphenated her last name when she married, which was a very big deal at the time.


Google honors Ida B. Wells on her 153rd birthday 

If you’ve visited the Google homepage Thursday, you’ve noticed there’s a little historic woman ferociously typing away on her old-school typewriter above the search bar.

Her name is Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, or Ida B. Wells for short, and Thursday is her 153rd birthday. Wells was a renowned American journalist, an entrepreneur running a publication at a time when neither black people nor women had very many rights in the United States and a fearless leader who fought for the advancement of civil liberties. At the age of 25, she made history.

anonymous asked:

Someone just angrily told me that black women gained the right to vote when white women did ??? There's no way right ? I even learned in U.S. Schools that they gained the right afterwards... And same with other WOC and POC.

The person who told you that is definitely wrong, which is the problem with the mess that was Facebook’s “equality” celebration post. While in theory, the 19th Amendment / federal government gave women the right to vote, because of state and local laws and practices made it so that this only applied to white women. Women of Color across the board were disenfranchised well into the 20th Century. Things like poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and law enforcement intimidation/violence made it so that most PoC could not vote. While they were created to disenfranchise Black people, these barriers also affected and were used against Native American, Asians, and Latinxs. Even today, there are so many barriers to voting, like voter ID laws, cutting early voting, making voter registration more difficult, and taking away the right to vote from people who have been convicted of felonies. These mainly affect low-income, disabled People of Color. Check out the ACLU’s page on the Voting Rights Act, and you’ll see exactly what I mean

It’s so wild to me that people really think voting rights were extended to all women. I think the main reason is that we’re taught history in such a fragmented way, as if each individual event happens within a vacuum and intersectionality is not a thing. Like Jim Crow laws were definitely around by the 1920s, did you think that after the ratification of the 19th amendment, law enforcement was like, “Fuck! Now that these darn ladies can vote, we can’t bar Black women from the polls!” 

If you want to get technical and look at laws that claim to give PoC the right to vote (but again, keep in mind that in reality, only changing laws doesn’t really help people on a grassroots level because of widespread oppression), I would check out KQED’s voting rights timeline. It’s interesting cause you’ll notice that across the board, even as people fight for full citizenship, that doesn’t mean the right to vote. Focusing specifically on Black women: while legally all Black people were able to vote with the 15th Amendment, and women were able to vote with the 19th Amendment, reality is much different. Edit: apparently this was unclear, but what I’m saying here is “legally” Black people could vote and “legally” women could vote, but in reality, the vote was only given to Black men (who were disenfranchised anyway, so still couldn’t vote) and in reality the vote was only given to white women. Most Black women weren’t actually allowed to vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965. You’ll notice that that’s a good 40+ years after the 19th Amendment was ratified. 

Slight tangent: and anyway, most white suffragettes were virulent racists whose petitions for the right to vote were basically, “why the hell are you giving Black men the right before we get the right?” Look at their campaigns (especially those who worked in the South, not that the North was a beacon of anti-racism) and much of the rhetoric is like, “give white women the right to vote because we’ll balance out the Black vote and also Blacks are animals so we deserve it more.” There’s a reason why most people can only name white women when talking about women’s voting rights. Literally Google any Black woman activist from that time period (like Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Harriet Tubman, Mary Church Terrell) and you’ll see that they suffered so much antiblackness from the white suffragists that most of them didn’t want to be anywhere near the movement. And keep in mind, most of these white women were active in the abolition movement - proving that being anti-slavery did not mean you were anti-racist. There are so many places to start, but I would suggest checking out this article, “How Racism Tainted Women’s Fight to Vote.

- Jennifer
The Long History of Black Americans Arming Themselves in Self-Defense—and Why We Ignore It

By Rebecca Onion

The history of black responses to the violence of 1919—which ranged from the use of a single weapon against a home invader, to the organization of defensive posses like Davis’ that were meant to protect potential victims of lynching, to the deployment of groups of men who patrolled city streets during unrest—makes it clear that armed self-defense, far from being an invention of Malcolm X and the Black Power movement, is a strategy with deep roots. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement, the story of nonviolence—a beautiful strategy with uncontestable moral force—has taken center stage. However the story of active self-defense against violence—a tradition that developed before, and then alongside, nonviolent resistance—is too often dismissed or simply ignored. Even before slavery had been outlawed, black Americans took up arms when their lives and livelihoods were threatened. Their experiences make the familiar history of marches and peaceful protest more complex. But the story of the civil rights struggle is incomplete without them.

“A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give." 

—Ida B. Wells-Barnett