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Ida B. Wells Timeline

  • Ida Wells is born.

    Ida Wells is born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. At the time of her birth, both her parents were slaves, but they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.
  • Family Tragedy

    Ida loses her parents and 10-month-old brother to yellow fever. In order to support her younger siblings (and keep them out of foster homes), Ida drops out of school and becomes a teacher in an all-black elementary school.
  • Southwestern Railroad incident

    A train conductor orders Wells to give up her seat on the train. She refuses, and later sues the railroad for illegal racial segregation.
  • Southwestern Railroad settlement

    Ida Wells wins her case in the lower courts, and is granted a settlement for illegal racial segregation.
  • Southwestern Railroad appeal

    Southwestern Railroad appeals to the Tennessee Supreme court, which reverses the previous ruling. Ida Wells is ordered to pay court fines.
  • Newspaper Editor

    Ida Wells becomes a co-owner and editor for the "Free Speech and Headlight," and writes articles about anti-segregation and race-equality.
  • Racial Violence

    Ida Wells' three friends, Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell, and Henry Stewart, all co-owners of a grocery store, have their store invaded, and shoot and injure the (white) invaders in self defense. The three co-owners are arrested and jailed, but a lynch mob drags the men out of jail and kills them. In response, Wells wrote an article in the "Free Speech and Headlight," urging all her black readers to leave Memphis
  • Newspaper office destroyed.

    Ida Wells' workplace, the "Free Speech and Headlight," is destroyed by a mob in retaliation for the articles she wrote about the lynching of her friends.
  • Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases

    Wells writes her famous speech, "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases." Wells discusses the social factors and causes behind lynch mobs and irrational fear of black men, and also protests racial inequality before the law.
  • Marriage

    Ida Wells marries Ferdinand Barnett. She keeps her maiden name along with her husband's last name.
  • Founding the NAACP.

    Ida Wells founds the N.A.A.C.P. alongside W. E. B. Du Bois, Archibald Grimké, Henry Moskowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard, William English Walling, Florence Kelley, and Charles Edward Russell.
  • March for Suffrage

    Wells takes part in the National American Women's Suffrage Association (NAWSA)'s protest march, demanding that Woodrow Wilson acknowledge the goals of the suffrage movement. Famously, Wells refuses to march separately from the white sufragettes.
  • "Crusade for Justice"

    Ida Wells begins writing her autobiography
  • Death

    Ida B, Wells-Barnett dies in Chicago, before she is able to finish her autobiography. She was 68.
  • "Crusader of Justice" published.

    Ida's daughter, Alfreda Duster, publishes her autobiography