This week in history: Celebrating Ida B. Wells this Juneteenth

City Council passed a resolution to recognize Juneteenth in part to “celebrate African American freedom and achievement.” To that end, we celebrate civil rights icon, Ida B. Wells.

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Ida B. Wells.

Ida B. Wells

Sun-Times Print Collection

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

City Council passed a resolution Wednesday recognizing Juneteenth as a day “to reflect on the suffering endured by early African Americans, promote public awareness and celebrate African-American freedom and achievement.” Many will spend Friday learning more about African American historical figures and leaders. In that spirit, we’re highlighting the wit and writings of investigative journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, in her own words.

In the April 11, 1909, edition of the Chicago Daily News, Wells published a rebuke of an address delivered by former Confederate Col. Henry Watterson, who said Black suffrage was a failure “because southern whites will not have it.”

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“All the world knows the reason the negro has not been equal to suffrage,” Wells wrote, “is because the same southern whites who deplore agitation on the subject, are themselves the ones who keep up the agitation.

“This they persistently have done for the last thirty years, through the medium of the Ku Klux Klans, stuffed ballot boxes, grandfather clauses in their state constitutions, by magazine articles and such public addresses as Col. Watterson’s.”

Wells is best-known for writing “Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in all its Phases,” which exposed the lawless reasons for lynchings in the south.

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