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Ida Wells Barnett

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Ida Wells Barnett

Ida Wells-Barnett was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862. She was the oldest of eight children. Ida was born of slaves, but her parents were able to support eight children. Her mother was a famous cook, and her father was a skilled carpenter. When Ida was only fourteen, an epidemic of Yellow Fever swept though Holly Spring and killed her parents and youngest sibling. She kept her family together by securing a job teaching. Ida managed to continue her education by attending near by Rust College. Then she moved to Memphis to live with her aunt and help raise her youngest sisters.

It was in Memphis where Ida first began to fight. In 1884, she was asked by the conductor of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man, and ordered her to move into the smoking car, which was already crowed with other passengers. She refused to move. Then they tried to drag her out of the seat, but the moment he caught hold of her arms. She bit him. Then he tried it again, but he failed. Since he could not drag her out by himself. So he went up front and got a baggage man and another man to help him. Of course they succeeded. Wells was removed from the train and other passengers-all whites-applauded. When Ida returned to Memphis, she hired an attorney to sue the railroad. She won her case, but the Railroad Company appealed to the Supreme Court of Tennessee and it reversed the lawsuit. After that, Ida worked tirelessly, and fearlessly to overturn injustices against women and other people of color.

She married the editor of one of Chicago's black newspapers. She wrote, "I was married in the city of Chicago to Attorney F.L Barnett, and retired to what I thought was the privacy of a home." She didn't stay retired long and continued writing and organizing. In 1906, Ida joined with William E.B Dubois and others to further the



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