Friday, January 23, 2009

Careful, she bites

In 1884, a school teacher by the name of Ida B. Wells took a seat on a train. Little did she know that taking this seat would cause her to sink her teeth into a conductor's hand a few minutes later. After being demanded by the conductor to give up her seat, Wells was grabbed by the man in an attempt to remove her with force. Ida braced herself with the seat in front of her, and promptly clamped down on the conducter's hand with her teeth. The conducter, shaken by the attack, retrieved the baggage claim assistant and they both removed Wells from her seat. This incident instilled a fire in Wells that would later manifest into her anti-lynching campaigns. She began writing segments in the newspaper called "Free Speech," where she attacked the unlawful treatment of African Americans. As you may have guessed, these editorials sparked an anger in the white, Memphis residents that caused Wells to leave the state. She traveled North in hopes of more support, but was disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm upon her arrival. So, Wells set out for England on a speaking tour and finally people began to take notice. She called the lynchings barbaric and asked how a society is expected to be looked upon as civilized when these gastly acts were unjustly being committed. Through these speeches, Wells got the attention of Northerners back in the states who were opposed to the unfair treatment of African Americans and therefore began to challenge them to stand up to these lynchings and renounce them.

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