When Ida B. Wells moved to Chicago at the age of 32, she was already a world-renowned anti-lynching crusader, civil rights activist and investigative journalist.
Born into slavery during the Civil War, she later risked her life investigating and exposing violence against black people in the South, and became a co-owner of The Memphis Free Speech so that she had the editorial power to do so. After an angry mob burned the newspaper’s office down, she kept going. She published her writings throughout the U.S. and abroad. She traveled, she taught, she spoke.
One CPS high school student learned about Wells’ work in the South for Black History Month but wanted to know more about her life in Chicago. So she asked Curious City:
What was Ida B. Wells’ legacy in Chicago?
Journalism was just one avenue Wells used to fight injustice. After her relocation to Chicago in 1894, she worked tirelessly to advance the cause of black equality and black power. Wells established the first black kindergarten, organized black women, and helped elect the city’s first black alderman, just a few of her many achievements. The work she did paved the way for generations of black politicians, activists, and community leaders. To trace Wells’ legacy and understand its impact today, we spoke with some of those leaders — including Wells’ great-granddaughter.