Glad to see Sen. Blackburn recognize Ida B. Wells

Published 9:56 am Friday, August 25, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

To the Editor:
In the August 23 Elizabethton Star, it was nice to see Sen. Blackburn celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment by providing some history of the efforts for Tennessee’s ratification of this amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. I found Sen Blackburn’s list of famous Tennessee suffragists rather curious. Her selection of Anne Dallas Dudley and Abby Crawford Milton may be expected because they were two of the leaders of the campaign for Tennessee’s approval of the 19th Amendment. The third suffragist that Sen. Blackburn listed was Ida B. Wells. Ida was an exceptionally resilient individual with a strong passion for justice, but she was driven from Tennessee nearly 30 years before ratification of the 19th Amendment.
Ida came to Tennessee in 1880, an orphan, still in her teens, and the primary supporter of her younger siblings. She worked as a teacher and journalist, and became a co-owner of a Memphis newspaper. Ida was forced to leave Tennessee in 1892, when her newspaper published her research on 728 lynchings, to which her fellow citizens responded by burning her newspaper’s building to the ground and threatening to lynch her.
So, in 1892, Ida made Chicago her home until her death in 1931. While Ida was undoubtedly glad to see passage of the 19th Amendment, she saw little progress in racial justice during her lifetime, despite her untiring voice as both a writer and speaker, through the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 and beyond. Ida’s life truly exemplifies perseverance and continual hope for the American ideal of equality, and it is heartening that Sen. Blackburn recognizes her as a Tennessean.

D. McCoy

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox