Ida B. Wells and the Unlawful Lynchings of Blacks After The Civil War
Ida B. Wells was an African American woman who dedicated her life to the prevention of injustice for Blacks in the United States and promotion of their equality in society. Born in 1862, Wells was taught from her enslaved parents the love of freedom and independence that characterized her throughout her life. These beliefs led her at an early age to become a newspaper journalist who wrote in opposition to unjust laws in the South. While working on a story in Natchez, Mississippi, she heard about the lynching of three young black businessmen in Memphis. These blacks—one of whom was her best friend, Thomas Moss—were lynched because they were deemed by whites “too prosperous” for their racial. This fueled Wells belief that, “lynching was a racist strategy to eliminate independent and prosperous Negroes” (Andrews, Foster and Harris 2001: 426).
Whites were terrified of the idea of a successful Black that anytime they stepped “out of line” they were brutally beaten, harassed or worse similar to the case of the three men in Memphis, lynched. Living as a Black woman in the segregated South Wells witnessed firsthand how racial hatred was affecting the growth of Blacks. This gross injustice defining Black life inspired her to launch a crusade against lynching until her death in 1931. Throughout her examination of economic and social causes of racial oppression such as share cropping, racial riots, voting and the idea of Black males raping white women, she developed her theoretical analysis of lynching in the South.
The nation, in theory, believed that they had solved the issue of racism in the United States: not only was the Civil War over, but also, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were passed. Although legally De facto segregation was still present and racism still a bitterly present social force. “Historians studying lynching have pointed out that 1892 was a peak year for...