Friday, October 23, 2020
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STILL SCARED

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IDA B. WELLS INSPIRES US TODAY

This summer, Luxe Kurves chose Ida B. Wells to represent our feminist vision. Through our magazine’s Ida B. Wells section, we hope to honor her legacy.

Ida B. Wells was born into slavery six months before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Her family deeply valued education and they were politically active during Reconstruction. Her father even helped found Rust College, a historically black university that still operates today.

From the beginning, Wells consistently prioritized truth over personal stability. As a teenager, she sacrificed her Rust enrollment by arguing with the University president. As an adult, she lost her teaching position by exposing the educational disadvantages of African Americans. The next year, her antilynching editorial campaign cost her her newspaper office. She also refused to sit in the “colored only” train car, and her lawsuit went to the Tennessee Supreme Court. In 1913, she even stood up to the suffragettes by refusing to march in the back of their parade.

A major outlet for her activism was journalism. Her writing was so influential that she won a Pulitzer in 2020. The award was specifically for her antilynching work, which had made her a prominent leader in 1890s antilynching movements. Wells owned two newspapers, the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight and Free Speech, and contributed to several others.

Besides journalism, Wells was a forefront activist in feminist and antiracist organizations. She was an executive member during the founding of the NAACP and the secretary of the National Afro American Council. She also founded the National Association of Colored Women, the Negro Fellowship League, and the Alpha Suffrage Club.

The Alpha Suffrage Club may have been the first black women’s suffrage organization, and its activism was key to the passage of the Illinois Equal Suffrage Act. However, Wells did not end her suffrage work there. In later years, the club went door to door, encouraging women to register and vote.

Luxe Kurves admires Wells’ commitment to absolute, full equality. Her life demonstrated how writing and organizing can impact government and culture. As a magazine, we will continue her mission by challenging the status quo and speaking truth to power. As a citizen, it is imperative that you vote in the 2020 election. Ida B. Wells once said, “With no sacredness of the ballot there can be no sacredness of human life itself.” It is our responsibility not just to remember her, but to protect and expand the rights she secured for us.