Honors, at Last, for Ida B. Wells, ‘a Sword Among Lions’

Born in slavery in Mississippi in 1862, Wells grew up during Reconstruction, when constitutional rights were extended to formerly enslaved African-Americans. Black men participated in electoral politics throughout the former Confederacy. Wells took up her career as a journalist during a time “when the possibilities of racial inclusiveness and the power of unified, collective action were palpable,” the biographer Paula Giddings writes in “Ida: A Sword Among Lions.”

By 1892, however, when Wells turned 30, she had witnessed the passing of those halcyon days and the rise of lynch mobs throughout the South, hanging, burning and beating to death black men who dared stand up for their rights or compete with whites in business.

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