Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) - journalist | educator | civil rights leader

Barnett, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons



Ida B. Wells was a journalist, educator, early leader in the civil rights movement, and a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Born into slavery, Wells was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. As an investigative journalist, Wells tirelessly documented the horrors of lynching. After receiving numerous threats, her newspaper office and presses were destroyed by a white mob. Wells was a national and international speaker and active in the women's rights and suffrage movements. In 2020, Wells received a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for her courageous reporting. 


"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” 

“The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”  

"The South resented giving the Afro-American his freedom, the ballot box and the Civil Rights Law.” 


Wells, I.B. (2020). Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells, Second Edition. 

Wells, I.B. (2014). The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader.

Giddings, P.J. (2008). Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching. 






Debbie Scott Williams - Artist Statement

I chose Ida B. Wells-Barnett because of the South, the Memphis in me.  Born almost exactly 100 years before me, much of the life I lead as a Black woman,  citizen, voter, attorney, artist is borne of her brave advocacy to push America closer to its stated ideals. 

I chose the photograph of a lotus in Fairway, Kansas to depict how a brilliant, unique blossom rises from the mud and cloudy water to absorb and radiate light. After reaching the open blossom stage, though still growing in the mud of the pond, the lotus is changing everything in view by its beauty, its light, its place as a safe haven, a place to pollinate and regenerate for next year's cycle. 

Ida B. Wells Barnett walked on waters of the muddy Mississippi River to use words as a spotlight, sword, and shield to save the lives of Black people and improve the status of women.   Her dynamic feats made a space for me to be here, near another river to tell the story through my images, my lived experience, and my words. 

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"Lotus Blossom Petals Descending"

Women Who Walked on Water

Joy Zimmerman

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Women Who Walked on Water (3:21) – mid-tempo with soulful vocals, rhythmic guitars, and lilting fiddle. A song of tribute to seventeen courageous women who changed the world.

Music & Lyrics by Joy Zimmerman

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