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History - Essay Example

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Name History and Political Science 15 October 2013 History Ida B. Wells was born on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi (Browne and Cottrell 13). Her parents James Wells and Elizabeth were slaves and this naturally made Ida a slave as well…
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Download file to see previous pages... This changed Ida’s destiny, since she was able to attend university unlike other children born to slaves. Ida had several memories of slavery and during her adulthood, she made a vow to fight for racial justice. Among the racial and gender stereotypes that Ida was challenging discrimination of blacks by whites, the killings of blacks by whites, rapes of Negro girls and women by white men, stereotyping upon black men as rapists, and economic destruction of blacks by whites. During the periods of post-reconstruction and post-emancipation, racial categories in America were on the rise and this promoted more lynching crimes. Wells first encounter with racial discrimination happened when she boarded a train, but was forced out of the train for sitting in the section meant for whites. Despite suing the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad company, she lost her case against the train company, the main reason being the fact that she was black. According to Waldrep, “in 1887, the crusading journalist Ida B. Wells lost faith in the law when the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled against her suit against a train company that had forced her from the white section of its train” (52). All along, Wells had believed that the law would be impartial in its ruling, but like other black leaders she generated doubts on whether the law and constitutionalism could sufficiently fight white oppression. During the 19th century, lynching of blacks by whites was a common occurrence. Wells had however not faced any lynching incident although she knew that the crime existed. She began her campaign against lynching five years after the train incident, when a quarrel between blacks and whites broke out at a neighborhood in Memphis. The reason for the quarrel was the opening up of a grocery store meant to provide the black population with cheap groceries by three black men namely; Henry Stewart, Calvin McDowell, and Thomas Moss, who were friends to Wells. The grocery store belonging to the three black men was located across a grocery store owned by whites and the fact that the black men had decided to sell their groceries at a price they perceived fair to the black community angered the whites. Both communities knowing of the intentions of each other organized mobs, so when the white community went to the store to attack the owners, the three owners and the entire black mob was ready. The three white men that invaded the store were shot by the owners and this led to the arrest of the three black men. According to Wells, “the three business partners were jailed and charged with wounding white men , despite their doing so in what they had thought was defense of their property” (3). The arrest and subsequent actions towards the three black men were supposed to follow the law, but this did not happen. White newspapers emphasized the issue of the blacks being wrong, and at no instance did they mention the intentions of the white mob for invading the grocery store owned by blacks. Asante asserts that the newspapers elevated “white anger and gave rise to the formation of another white mob, this time outside the jail where the three blacks were being held and resulting in their murder” (164). This and many other similar incidents are evidence of lynching against blacks and economic destruction of blacks by whites in the 19th century, aimed at keeping the black race down by eliminating any blacks who seemed to have the potential of being economically successful. This is supported by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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