The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells
As we reflect on the last week's horrific events in Ferguson, Missouri, it's hard to imagine that anyone in this country cannot be moved by images of Black people with their hands up shouting, "Hands up. Don't shoot" as police with long guns stare down at them from armoured trucks. USA Today notes that local police killed an average of 2 Black people every week from 2005 to 2012. Even more upsetting are the accounts of Black women and girls who have been killed by police as recounted by Khadijah Costley White in her excellent piece entitled Black and Unarmed: Women and Girls Without Weapons Killed by Law Enforcement. We need to stop talking about these killings as police misconduct and begin recognizing them as state sponsored lynchings, not a justice system gone awry but disturbed deep inner workings. Until we do there will be no justice, no democracy and no peace.
Black feminist Ida B. Wells started the nation's most prominent anti-lynching campaign in 1893. Ida B. Wells knew and worked with white feminist Susan B. Anthony but was unsucessful in getting her to work on anti-lynching. Wells advocated a panoply of direct and indirect action strategies including boycott, moral suasion, advocacy journalism, immigration, and armed self-defense. She talked about gender and sexuality.
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