Ida B Wells' Role in the Civil Rights Movement

Ida B Wells' Role in the Civil Rights Movement

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Throughout Ida B. Wells’ diary, she has many struggles, ups and downs. Her diary takes us from her young promiscuous days as a young woman with her various friends, callers, and not knowing who she really was to basically a travel log as a married lady who was well set, owned her own news paper, and a spokesman for blacks all across America. During these years, she goes through long stretches of depression and happiness. In her struggles of depression, Wells very much struggles with three particular concepts the most. Wells has big problems her identity, the way black women were treated, and stereotypes of blacks.
In Wells’ younger days, she struggled tremendously with the concept of identity. She did not know who she was, where shit fit in, or what crowd she was in part. In her diary, she talks of how she despises racism and blacks who forget their culture, yet when it comes to her looks she dresses to the “white” standard of a proper lady. Wells does not even notice this as it is not just her, but a mindset that has already been developing around her which she has taken on, that the “white” standard of dress is what is proper. One thing Wells does notice though is that she does not fit in anywhere. In the text she talks of how she feels she does not fit her time’s standards as a black woman. This is because in her time not just black women but mostly all women were supposed to be in the private eye and men were in the public eye. Wells’ found herself in the public eye which was extremely unusual, her being black and a woman. This is why she did not fit in. Wells’ struggle with identity is very important because it shows how the younger years of your life are a growing period for a person to find one’s self and true purpose. Wells was conflicted all the way into her twenties until she decides to take action on what she has wanted to do which is to be a writer and use that to be the trumpet and voice of blacks and speak out against the unfair treatment of blacks in America. Wells had to struggle through her identity to find her true purpose. This happens to mostly everyone nowadays also, for example in college many students do not know what they want to do until almost their third or fourth year in.

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Wells also had a major problem with the way black women were treated. She writes in her diary, of how she feels black women are not on the same level as black men. In her time black women were almost on the bottom of society in the way they were treated and Wells’ has a major problem with this, her being a strong minded, opinionated, an outspoken black women. This is shown in the incident where Wells was asked to go to the black section on the train by the conductor, and Wells refuses and proceeds to bite and kick the man. It is clear here that Wells has issues with the treatment of her kind. This is important because these issues that Wells has later fuel her presence in the civil rights movement. This un-acceptance of the way she is treated translates to her newspaper which she uses to speak out against the wrongs of America. This also happens in the modern world, for example Barack Obama uses America’s past of racism as the fuel to his campaign “We need change”. He uses a bad thing that is wrong with America to use a drive to strive and change it just as Wells does.
Another issue that Wells has is the stereotypes that are applied to blacks in her time. Whites think of most black women to be mami’s or jazzy’s in which Wells’ is a part of neither. Wells is not comfortable with this fact and is very quick to defend against it. Wells did not consider her self any of the stereotypes that were on blacks in the time, which is why she had such a problem with it. This is present in the fact that her and W.E.B. DuBois do not get along due to the fact that he is sexist against black women and she has a major problem with this. The two get into it a lot. This is also what Wells uses as her “fuel” in conjunction with her disliking of the unfairness towards black women in her later work in the Civil Rights movement. Without Wells having these issues it can be debated if Wells would have been such a supporter in the civil rights movement or not. In the modern world, this can be seen still present today since civil rights is still going on. For example, in the Jena 6 case one could argue that the black men were arrested and charges because of the stereotypes of black men being violent. This inspired black people all over the country and “fueled” the people to appoint the men a just and fair trial.
Identity, black women’s treatment, and stereotypes all play a major role in laying out the foundation in Ida B. Wells’ role in the Civil Rights movement. The experiences that Wells has in these three concepts help her as being motivation for the role she would later play in Civil Rights. Without these three influences, Wells would not be the presence that she once was.
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