Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • In March of 1892,

  • three Black grocery store owners in Memphis, Tennessee,

  • were murdered by a mob of white men.

  • Lynchings like these were happening all over the American South,

  • often without any subsequent legal investigation

  • or consequences for the murderers.

  • But this time,

  • a young journalist and friend of the victims

  • set out to expose the truth about these killings.

  • Her reports would shock the nation

  • and launch her career as an investigative journalist,

  • civic leader, and civil rights advocate.

  • Her name was Ida B. Wells.

  • Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi

  • on July 16, 1862, several months before the Emancipation Proclamation

  • released her and her family.

  • After losing both parents and a brother to yellow fever at the age of 16,

  • she supported her five remaining siblings

  • by working as a schoolteacher in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • During this time,

  • she began working as a journalist.

  • Writing under the pen nameIola,”

  • by the early 1890s she gained a reputation

  • as a clear voice against racial injustice

  • and become co-owner and editor

  • of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper.

  • She had no shortage of material:

  • in the decades following the Civil War,

  • Southern whites attempted to reassert their power

  • by committing crimes against Black people

  • including suppressing their votes,

  • vandalizing their businesses, and even murdering them.

  • After the murder of her friends,

  • Wells launched an investigation into lynching.

  • She analyzed specific cases through newspaper reports and police records,

  • and interviewed people who had lost friends and family to lynch mobs.

  • She risked her life to get this information.

  • As a Black person investigating racially motivated murders,

  • she enraged many of the same southern white men involved in lynchings.

  • Her bravery paid off.

  • Most whites had claimed and subsequently reported

  • that lynchings were responses to criminal acts by Black people.

  • But that was not usually the case.

  • Through her research,

  • Wells showed that these murders were actually a deliberate,

  • brutal tactic to control or punish black people who competed with whites.

  • Her friends, for example,

  • had been lynched when their grocery store

  • became popular enough to divert business from a white competitor.

  • Wells published her findings in 1892.

  • In response, a white mob destroyed her newspaper presses.

  • She was out of town when they struck,

  • but they threatened to kill her if she ever returned to Memphis.

  • So she traveled to New York,

  • where that same year she re-published her research in a pamphlet titled

  • Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

  • In 1895, after settling in Chicago,

  • she built on Southern Horrors in a longer piece called The Red Record.

  • Her careful documentation of the horrors of lynching

  • and impassioned public speeches drew international attention.

  • Wells used her newfound fame to amplify her message.

  • She traveled to Europe,

  • where she rallied European outrage against racial violence in the American South

  • in hopes that the US government and public would follow their example.

  • Back in the US,

  • she didn’t hesitate to confront powerful organizations,

  • fighting the segregationist policies of the YMCA

  • and leading a delegation to the White House

  • to protest discriminatory workplace practices.

  • She did all this while disenfranchised herself.

  • Women didn’t win the right to vote until Wells was in her late 50s.

  • And even then, the vote was primarily extended to white women only.

  • Wells was a key player in the battle for voting inclusion,

  • starting a Black women’s suffrage organization in Chicago.

  • But in spite of her deep commitment to women’s rights,

  • she clashed with white leaders of the movement.

  • During a march for women’s suffrage in Washington D.C.,

  • she ignored the organizersattempt to placate Southern bigotry

  • by placing Black women in the back,

  • and marched up front alongside the white women.

  • She also chafed with other civil rights leaders,

  • who saw her as a dangerous radical.

  • She insisted on airing, in full detail, the atrocities taking place in the South,

  • while others thought doing so would be counterproductive

  • to negotiations with white politicians.

  • Although she participated in the founding of the NAACP,

  • she was soon sidelined from the organization.

  • Wellsunwillingness to compromise any aspect of her vision of justice

  • shined a light on the weak points of the various rights movements,

  • and ultimately made them stronger

  • but also made it difficult for her to find a place within them.

  • She was ahead of her time,

  • waging a tireless struggle for equality and justice

  • decades before many had even begun to imagine it possible.

In March of 1892,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 TED-Ed memphis journalist southern black black people

How one journalist risked her life to hold murderers accountable - Christina Greer

  • 14 0
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/19
Video vocabulary