• Black History Month: Ida B. Wells, journalism giant

    By: Raisa Habersham , The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    You cannot talk about resistance without discussing Ida B. Wells.

    Wells' unwavering fight against black disenfranchisement displayed the necessity of black voices in activism.

    For Wells -- who was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or NAACP, in 1909 -- resistance was mightiest in her pen.

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    In 1884, after the Holly Springs, Mississsippi-born teacher-turned-journalist was dragged off a train to Memphis for refusing to give up her seat for white person, Wells wrote an article for her local newspaper "The Living Way," exposing the injustices of the Jim Crow South and sparking a boycott of all white goods and services by blacks.

    It was her coverage of lynchings, about which Wells wrote under the pen name Iola, that unearthed a tortured history of black Americans. The first one she wrote about was that of  a friend in 1889 who owned a frequented black-owned store.

    It's in Wells' scathing dialogue that we uncover the staggering number of blacks slain for simply daring to exist.

    Wells' impact is not forgotten.

    The National Association of Black Journalists and the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University jointly awards the Ida B. Wells Award to journalists who have worked to increase access and opportunities to people of color in journalism.

    The Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting and the Investigative Fund's Ida B. Wells Fellowship were started in 2015 and 2016, respectively, to cultivate the next crop of black investigative journalists, proving Iola's pen is -- and always will be -- mightier than the sword.

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