Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Woman Crush Wednesday - Ida B. Wells-Barnett

A week and a half ago I went to the movies by myself.  Not a rare situation around these parts. I know Lefty doesn't want to see all the movies that I do, and since he works second shift, it just so happens that I have evenings open for silently watching movies in a room full of strangers. The last movie I saw was Selma. Critically acclaimed. Nominated for a ton of awards. Directed by a woman, Selma. That is the one. I thought it was well done...for what it is, but there was one area where I really thought the movie was lacking-- there was only one woman that was consistently shown as an active participant in this portion of the Civil Rights Movement. She was part of the meetings, the marches and she was not married to a man that was in the inner circle. One woman. One.

Um. So I feel the need to be snarky when I say that there is no way that the Civil Rights Movement, as we know it, would have been as successful as it was without the help of the fairer sex. No way. So to see only one woman involved in the inner circle in this movie was slightly disheartening, to say the least. I know that this movie was about one portion of the Movement, but damn. It seems to me that in large AND small instances it is really easy to write women out of the story, or make us background characters and supporting cast members. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were several thousand women who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. Thousands who were marching right along with men, getting the brunt of the police dogs, fire hoses, beatings, jail time and death. Several thousand. It is my contention that we should try to get to know their names-- it truly is the LEAST we could do. So my first Woman Crush Wednesday highlights Ida Wells Barnett.

So, Ida has a special place in my heart because she did a ton for the city of Chicago AND once married she had a hyphenated name (like me) which was a super bold move in 1895. Ida was born a slave on July 16, 1862 in the deep South (Mississippi). She had a swift tongue (like yours truly) and it often got her in trouble. She got a job as a teacher to help her siblings stay together - and out of foster care- after their parents died. While she was teaching, she began to write about the racial injustices that surrounded her-- including the large numbers of lynchings that were happening. This chick was so BAD, she was good!! She received so many death threats that she had to leave Memphis for the great city of Chicago, where she worded tirelessly to improve the conditions of Blacks in the city.

Ida co-founded the National Association of Colored Women, the National Afro-American Council and the Women's Era Club. She was a suffragette, women's rights activist, newspaper feature writer and editor, wife, mother and one of the greatest known figures in the anti-lynching movement.

Ida passed away in Chicago on March 25, 1931-- a little less than 7 months before my maternal grandmother was born, 84 years ago. The work that she started still helps women and society today. How about that for my very first WCW?! :)


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