Origins

Ida B. Wells was the very definition of a renaissance woman–knowledgeable and proficient in more than one field. Born ahead of her time, she was an activist, crusader, disrupter, feminist, journalist and strategist. Despite being born a slave, Wells knew no boundaries. For her entire life, she had one goal—the advancement and betterment of black people.

Starting out as a teacher to her six siblings after both parents died of Yellow Fever, Wells never stopped learning or educating others to the possibilities of real equality. Not only did Wells take on the nation’s silence against the barbaric act of lynching black men, she was one of the founders of the NAACP, and she fought for women to have the right to vote—forming the Alpha Suffrage Club–the first black women’s suffrage association in the United States.

In 1916, the club had nearly 200 members. Within three years the group grew to thousands. The women’s grassroots campaigning efforts are said to be responsible for the election of Chicago’s first black alderman. Oscar De Priest was elected as a Republican to represent the 2nd Ward.