Ida B. Wells, 1862-1931

by Patricia Schechter, Portland State University

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (pictured above, in 1920) ranks among the most important founders of modern civil rights and feminist movements among African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States. Her importance is both intellectual and social; the ideas she expressed and organizations she helped organize have endured to this day.

Biography of Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells-Barnett in 1920Ida B. Wells-Barnett ranks among the most important founders of modern civil rights and feminist movements among African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century United States. Her importance is both intellectual and social; the ideas she expressed and organizations she helped organize have endured to this day. Her analysis of lynching in the 1890s, especially of mob murder of black men wrongly accused of raping white women, has held up to the scrutiny of generations of scholars and activists, as have the organizations she helped shape: the National Association of Colored Women (1896) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (1909). Thanks to the work of filmmaker William Greaves, efforts of local commemorators in Chicago, New York, and Memphis, and in 1990, the U.S. postal service, Wells-Barnett remains fairly visible in the contemporary landscape of American heroes and high achievers. In her own day, however, she was frequently embattled. Within black communities she was both celebrated and criticized for her outspokenness; outside black communities, she was often in physical danger for speech and behavior that was considered threatening to white supremacy. Hers was a life of risk taking and rejection, of path breaking and reversals, a life she herself assessed as frustrated. What follows is a map to some of the innovations and backlash Wells-Barnett embraced during nearly a half century of activism, teaching, and writing in the interest of social justice.

Conditions in the post-civil war south deeply shaped Wells-Barnett's sense of self and possibilities in the world. Born in 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi to slave parents, she faced both new opportunities and new oppressions in coming of age after the end of slavery. Wells-Barnett's parents fostered in their children a powerful religious faith, a strong work ethic, and pride in education. Her father, James Wells, was a skilled carpenter and a member of the Masons who, after the war, served on the Board of Holly Springs's local American Missionary Association school, Rust College, which his daughter attended. Her mother, Elizabeth Warrenton Wells, worked as a cook and was a devout Methodist who made sure her children attended church, where she herself learned to read the Bible. Wells-Barnett's autobiography notes her father's pride in his intellectually precocious daughter, whom he had read the newspapers aloud to friends and visitors at home. The yellow fever epidemic of 1878 took the lives of both James and Elizabeth and the youngest of the six Wells siblings. At that point, a sixteen-year-old Ida determined to keep the family together by earning money as a schoolteacher. With the support of extended family and the resources left by her parents (including a house), Wells-Barnett headed a household in Holly Springs in a manner notable but not wholly unusual for rural and small town families in the late-nineteenth-century south, a context in which children were expected to contribute to family income and in which people married and set to housekeeping at relatively young age.

Wells-Barnett's coming of age was marked by both her parents' high hopes and the opportunities her generation sought in a rapidly changing "New South," whose established leadership focused on economic development and, to some extent, urban growth. While reading aloud at home was common enough in Victorian family life, that a young Wells-Barnett read about and listened in on explicitly political issues at home in the volatile years of Reconstruction is significant. So, too, was the pressing need to secure financial stability among resourceful yet economically fragile free black communities. The prospect of better wages and the presence of extended family soon drew Wells-Barnett to Memphis, Tennessee, some fifty miles from Holly Springs. There, her intellectual, social, and political horizons expanded in a burgeoning African American community notable for its highly accomplished middle-class and elite members. Viable two-party politics, Republican patronage, and an ambitious business class promoted long-held aspirations for economic and political equality among Memphis blacks. In addition to family and church, young people came together in newer urban spaces and institutions, like schools, clubs, lyceums, and places of culture and entertainment. The Baptist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) churches were especially strong, and these congregations fostered activities — everything from public events to publications — that enabled the fresh articulation of values and ambitions. Wells-Barnett was baptized in the Methodist Episcopal church in Holly Springs; she dedicated herself to teaching Sunday school in the AME church in Memphis, but frequently spent all day Sundays visiting and attending a number of different churches in town. In this dynamic, close-knit environment, Wells-Barnett began writing, speaking, and even performing in plays in public, in church and in school-related venues in Memphis in the mid-1880s. Her themes ranged from Shakespeare to temperance and she relished developing a public persona that could connect with audiences in the interest of education, community-betterment, and artistic expression. She even entertained the idea of writing a socially-conscious novel in these years, hoping to both make money and create socially useful art. In the main, however, she stuck to journalism, including religious publications, and eventually, joined the staff of the Memphis Free Speech, a locally owned weekly.

The themes of personal mobility and crosscutting social tensions of freedom and backlash reached a climax in Wells-Barnett's Memphis years — and indeed would characterize her entire life. In New South Memphis, she was a self-supporting woman tugged at by clashing trends of female equality and gender conservatism, new social freedoms and racial proscription. She both witnessed and experienced the constructed nature of racial categories and the politics involved in enforcing them via segregation. Jim Crow public schools were an obvious case since she herself was a teacher; but she was also aware of the sexualized power dynamics in play as well. Black women teachers were expected to bestow favors on white members of the school board in exchange for jobs. Likewise, a court case involving a local anti-miscegenation law was a set piece in the both arbitrary and political nature of defining who, exactly, was "black" or "white" and how the basic civil right of legal marriage was denied those who dared cross the color line respectably. In print and in court, Wells-Barnett protested her exclusion from the category of "lady" when she was ejected from a first class railroad car in 1884. These trends created social and political tensions that peaked in 1892, the height of lynching and the populist upsurge. That spring, when three black Memphis shopkeepers had their store attacked and were themselves arrested and then brutally murdered by a mob, the ugly political economy of race was laid bare and Wells-Barnett said as much in the press. "Nobody in this section believes the old threadbare lie that Negro men assault white women," she wrote in the Free Speech. "If Southern white men are not careful they will over-reach themselves and a conclusion will be reached which will be very damaging to the moral reputations of their women." With this and other commentary, Wells-Barnett cut to the heart of the most basic assumption of Victorian America's racialized moral economy: concepts of moral worth were tied to race with natural virtue inherent in "whiteness." In this economy, black men were assumed to be sexual predators and black women, sexually depraved; white women were defined as naturally pious and nondesiring, with white men as naturally virtuous protectors of the weak. Opposition to this ruling ideology was increasingly policed and met with violence; Wells-Barnett was threatened in the white press of Memphis and a mob attacked the Free Speech office for her critique of lynching. Tennessee ranked second in the nation in 1892 with twenty-eight lynchings; nearly 4,000 people lost their lives to mobs in this era, three-fourths of them black. These severe social crises translated into an intense period of personal dislocation and political movement for her that culminated in her transatlantic campaign against lynching. Nor was Wells-Barnett alone. A number of contemporaries who challenged the lynching-for-rape scenario and the sexualized racial politics underlying it, like Alexander Manly in North Carolina and Jesse Chisholm Duke of Alabama, were effectively exiled from the south for similar protests.

Well aware of the Duke case, Wells-Barnett wrote her editorial and essentially left town for safety, first for Philadelphia and then New York City. Outside the south, she began a public career in journalism and agitation that made her an internationally known figure. Her pioneering anti-lynching work took place in the early 1890s with speeches, organizing meetings, and the publication of a pamphlet series documenting the media distortions and exploding the racist justifications for lynching. In particular the pamphlet Southern Horrors (1892) belongs to an important protest tradition that includes Maria Stewart and David Walker, marked by a signature blend of spiritual angst, political insight, and a rousing call to armed self-defense. Although initially celebrated as a religious heroine — a "modern Joan of the race" — negative reactions to a black woman moving out of her place — out of the South, out of normative family life, and into the spotlight — precipitated a shift in gender expectations for African American women in organized reform. By 1900, the space created by Wells-Barnett for black women in national leadership had shrunk, and her vision of a broad-based social movement to end lynching failed to materialize. The movement she set in motion continued to change and by the World War I era the heroic, biblical model of black womanhood in leadership became further marginalized. At that point, soldierly and scientific models of manhood took center stage in the national imaginary of African American leaders and Wells-Barnett found herself and her grass roots vision of change falling out of favor among the NAACP's new generation of professional reformers, a group dominated by college-educated men from the northeast.

Wells-Barnett found an exceptional partner for a life consecrated to writing, faith, and activism. While active in the Negro Press Association in the 1880s, she met Ferdinand L. Barnett, a Chicago-based attorney and editor of a local weekly, the Chicago Conservator. Barnett was a married man when these two first encountered one another in the bustling newspaper world; Barnett was then widowed in 1890. He and Wells collaborated on a project in 1893, a protest publication aimed at black exclusion from the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Barnett also counseled Wells when she contemplated a libel suit against the Memphis Commercial newspaper for its threats and vilification that same year. During her lecture tour abroad in 1893 and 1894, a romance via letters was underway and her decision to settle in Chicago in 1895 likely had something to do with Barnett's residence in that city. The two married in June and eventually four children were born to them: Charles (1896), Herman (1897), Ida Jr. (1901), and Alfreda (1904). Hyphenating her name to "Wells-Barnett" allowed this new wife to retain a link to the public self created before marriage and the pair pressed forward with journalism at the Conservator as well as with national organizing, initially through the Afro-American league, a northern-based organization dominated by journalists. In these same years, Wells-Barnett was at the center of black women's movements and organizing. She attended meetings in 1895-96 that lead to the formation of the National Association of Colored Women, the largest and most important civil rights organization to date. Northern black women's support of Wells-Barnett after her Memphis exile had helped launch her early anti-lynching publications and support her speaking tour in Great Britain. Frederick Douglass had also been a key patron in this endeavor but with his passing in 1895, northern black women moved to the center of community building activities and the fight against lynching through the NACW, with Wells-Barnett at its center in the early years. Wells-Barnett's anti-lynching work in the 1890s points to how a socially-minded marriage, dynamic religious faith, and energetic female organizing created a powerful nexus for social change.

Nonetheless, female initiative — especially southern, religiously inflected grass-roots style leadership — began to lose traction in national political life, especially as the scale and characteristics of racial violence changed. By 1900, white-on-black violence shifted from rural and small town southern outbursts involving the rape charge to more urban dramas involving multiple victims and eventually, murderous sieges and riots that shut down entire cities in the north, south, and western regions. The rape charge did not fade away — the Atlanta of 1906 providing a prime example — but the terrain was shifting. As the NAACP honed a highly legalistic approach to anti-lynching, Wells-Barnett and her husband also changed their tactics accordingly at the local level. First, since black men — and after 1913 in Illinois black (and white) women — could vote in the north, a legislative rather than court room remedy to lynching was sought early. The result was the Illinois Anti Mob violence law of 1905 mandating the removal of any law enforcement official who failed to protect a prisoner in custody. Wells-Barnett and her husband personally made sure this law was enforced in the wake of a brutal lynching and riot in Cairo, Illinois in 1909. In addition, the two tackled inequity within the criminal justice system in Chicago, Barnett by taking on cases of police abuse and Wells-Barnett by becoming a parole officer and settlement leader focused on the needs of men and boys in their neighborhood, the predominately African American south side. The settlement in some ways functioned as an extension of the Barnett household, which youngest daughter Alfreda remembered as a safe haven and strategy center for people caught up in the vagaries of racism and Jim Crow.

Wells-Barnett's social settlement, the Negro Fellowship League, stands out in her later work and expresses a number of currents of thought and social commitment updated for the modern era. Established in 1910, the League grew directly out of Wells-Barnett's Sunday school teaching, when, disturbed by the Springfield race riot of 1908, a group of students began meeting at her home for lectures and discussion. Several distinct variables shaped the work of the League. First was a mission statement that clearly focused on boys and men in an era in which "woman's work for woman" (and children) was the keynote of female activism. Second, electoral politics figured prominently in the life of the settlement, much more so either than in the South, where disfranchisement was the rule, or among reforming white women in the North, who edged more gradually into partisan life after 1900 — even at neighboring Hull House. Wells-Barnett's need for funds motivated her to join electoral politics in the hopes of securing support for her settlement; by contrast, Jane Addams's personal fortune and wealthy patrons funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into her work in this same period. All of Wells-Barnett's plans for community improvement had female quality at heart, as demonstrated by her active and steadfast support of suffrage rights and voting power for black women throughout her Chicago years. The first voting organization for black women in Chicago, the Alpha Suffrage Club, was created by Wells-Barnett and met in the rooms of the Negro Fellowship League from its founding in 1913.

Two pillars of Wells-Barnett's work in reform — a faith-centered focus on community that affirmed women's equality and the constant struggle for resources, which pointed her to party politics — frame her work in the last decade of her life. As historians Glenda Gilmore and Laura Edwards have demonstrated for the South, citizenship rights created new opportunities for social influence among black women by making them clients of the state. In Chicago, African American women claimed a place of their own in public life as agents of the state, as shapers rather than recipients of politics power, and not just as voters but as party activist and candidates for elective and appointment office. The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and a reenergized women's club movement underwrote Wells-Barnett's own ambition for elected office in 1930. Though she lost her bid for state senator, few in black Chicago would have denied that Ida B. Wells-Barnett had been a vitally important figure in the life of the community, state, and nation for two generations. As the NACW's memorial read on the occasion of her death in 1931: "She was often criticized, misjudged and misunderstood because she fought for justice and civil righteousness both in America and Europe as God gave her vision to see the RIGHT."

The Anti-Lynching Pamphlets of Ida B. Wells, 1892-1920

Pamphlets written by Ida B. Wells-Barnett on the subject of lynching comprise a substantial body of innovative writing, reporting, and analysis in U.S. intellectual history. In the 1890s especially, nascent professional social scientists, media opinion shapers, and leaders in the black community acknowledged and relied on her work.1 Indeed, Ida B. Wells-Barnett's foundational insights into the complex social dynamics behind the lynching for rape scenario have stood the test of time in the more than one hundred years since she penned them; yet her status and recognition as a social critic in the ensuing years has been embattled, to say the least.2 At her death in 1931, for example, W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) journal, The Crisis, that her work had been "easily forgotten" and "taken to greater success" by others.3 Wells-Barnett herself complained in a diary of the neglect of "my anti-lynching contribution" in early black history textbooks penned by the influential scholar Carter G. Woodson.4 This essay suggests that rather than comprising a "forgotten" body work, Ida B. Wells-Barnett's pamphlet writings were appropriated and transformed by peers and colleagues in social reform. In turn, they marginalized her as author and leader.

Wells-Barnett criticized racism and lynching at a moment of intense anxiety about authentic personhood and belonging in U.S. history, an anxiety that was often expressed in the idiom of racial and sexual struggle.5 In order to launch resistance to lynching, she had to prove that lynching's primary victims, African American men, were people worthy of sympathy and citizens deserving protection. At the same time, she needed to present herself — an educated, middle-class Southern woman of mixed racial ancestry — as a credible dispenser of truth, a "representative" public figure able to command social and amoral authority. The context of racism and sexism in which she functioned made both tasks difficult. Wells-Barnett described lynching as an expression of conflict over rights, physical integrity, human dignity, and social power and the movement to end it was similarly fraught and contentious.

"Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases" by Ida B. WellsThe anti-lynching pamphlets written before 1900 combine statistical analysis, muckraking journalism, and a kind of "talking back" to power in which the everyday language of the social order is turned on its head for critical effect.6These elements are well-expressed in Wells-Barnett's first work, Southern Horrors, whose title mocked southern "honor" as a "horror" and which described southern society as a "white man's county" in which free speech and fair treatment were systematically denied to African Americans. The pamphlet refuted the justification for lynching as punishment for black on white rape by revealing that, according to published sources, fewer than 30% of reported lynchings even involved the charge of rape much less a legally proven case of it. This finding became the cornerstone of all subsequent arguments against lynching by a wide range of reformers and critics. Wells-Barnett further described white southerners' ascription of a bestial nature to black men as a ruse that hid a number of realities unflattering to would-be southern white male protectors. First, the rape charge obscured the economic and political competition that fueled white racial hostility toward African Americans in the post-Reconstruction era. Second, it hid the consensual and sometimes illicit sexual contacts between white women and black men that took place in the past and the present.7 Third, by describing rape as an inherent inclination of black men, white men's institutionalized sexual power over black women (which included long-standing patterns of abuse and victimization that arose under slavery and continued in its aftermath) was eclipsed by sensationalism and an appeal to "nature." Wells-Barnett's work in the 1890s tended to accent white women's agency and complicity in the lynching-for-rape scenario: their betrayals of black male consorts, their silent approval of punishment, or their active participation in mobs. More recent feminists note an additional purpose of the lynching for rape scenario: to instill fear and subordination in white women, who should rightly only feel safe at home. It was the issue of women's bodies that much of the controversy over Wells-Barnett's analysis and organizing focused in the 1890s. She insisted that the so-called black rapist was in reality the innocent victim of both the mob's blood lust and white women's sexual lust. Through the acknowledgement — even tacit endorsement — of the activities of "white Juliets [and] colored Romeos" Wells-Barnett countered white supremacists' dread of race mixing and degeneration with a story of potential racial equality.8 Instead of marking the beginning of the end of Anglo-Saxon civilization or the undoing of God's work of creation, Wells-Barnett read sex across the color line as evidence of shared culture and common humanity. But because interracial marriage was prohibited by legal and social authorities, sexual contacts across the color line involving white women were stringently policed and those involving black women were ignored; both dynamics endangered black people much more than white.

Thus the anti-lynching pamphlets of the 1890s comprised a comprehensive view of southern racialized sexual politics: a vindication of black men as true men, a critique of white southern would-be male protectors as corrupt, an expose of white women as active participants in white supremacist sexual politics, and a re-centering of black women's experiences in the dynamics of rape, lynching, and sexualized racism. Wells-Barnett's pamphlets documented not sideline suffering but attacks — lynching and rape — on black women and girls. In so doing, she staked a claim of outraged womanhood for African American women that was first articulated by opponents of slavery but which was becoming unthinkable under white supremacist ideology nearing the end of the nineteenth century. Wells-Barnett described the rape of black women as of a piece with the lynching of black men: lynching and rape formed a web of racist sexual politics designed to subjugate all African Americans.

Usually, Ida B. Wells-Barnett accented race to make the case for unequal power across the color line. She and other southern African Americans were keenly aware that the rise of Jim Crow threatened to empower all "whites" over and against all "blacks" regardless of class status, Christian standing, or natural ability. At moments, however, she tweaked the concept of "race" itself, mocking the very notion of fixed racial boundaries and the supposed "black and white of it" — a sarcastic reference to the ubiquitous newsprint carrying descriptions of — indeed, advertisements for — lynchings.9 Her writings pointed to ongoing sexual contact across the color line, to the population of southerners of mixed racial ancestry, and to cases in which white men committed crimes with their faces blackened, in a kind of perverse racial theater designed to thwart the law. In other words, Wells-Barnett exposed how taken-for-granted concepts like "race" and "rape" were socially constructed and politically deployed. In so doing, she challenged readers to examine the assumption that held their personal identities and sense of the social order together. It was a challenge few joined and many resisted, even to the point of violence. The attacks on her Memphis newspaper office, the threat of lynching against her that appeared in print, and a physical assault in New York City underscored how assuming the power to "talk back" provoked defenders of white supremacy and meant her very life. In this context, the pamphlets' concluding emphasis on action, self-help, and political strategies for change including coalitions with sympathetic whites merit attention. Ida B. Wells-Barnett's later writings engage the evolving patterns of racial conflict outside the southern context. These works suggest that stereotypes about black male deviance and depravity became more of an assumption than flag or banner for instigating and rationalizing racial attacks. Her analysis of riots in New Orleans, East St. Louis, and Arkansas involved critiques of the criminal justice system — law enforcement and the court system — which began to take over the work of black subordination in the twentieth century. In her analysis of events in Arkansas in 1919, Wells-Barnett attended to the ways in which black women as well as men became caught up in white supremacist campaigns and how they fought back. In all these writings, she emphasizes strategies for resistance. Unlike the early anti-lynching pamphlets, which were acknowledged, cited, or implicitly referred to by a cross section of reformers and critics, these later works seem not to have circulated much beyond Chicago — with the important exception of The East St. Louis Massacre. Historian Linda McMurray discovered a copy in Military Intelligence Division Papers of National Archives of the United States, a reminder of federal surveillance of African Americans suspected of disloyalty in the World War I era and proof of the perception of Wells-Barnett as a potential trouble maker vis-á-vis the dominant racial order.10

Over time, Ida B. Wells-Barnett's willingness to speak plainly about sexuality, her frank religious commitments in a skeptical and materialistic age, and her ideological rather than biological understanding of "race" in social life and politics fell out of favor with trends in social reform and civil rights agitation. The NAACP, founded in 1909, adopted a legislative approach to ending lynching, and a small handful of anti-lynching bills went down to defeat by the U.S. Senate in the interwar period.11 As the progressive era unfolded, theoretically any professional armed with documented or scientific fact was empowered to speak definitively on lynching and race. Wells-Barnett's authority as a witness, southerner, and black woman drew on her status as victim and survivor. In the new era, legal and scientific credentials, usually more accessible to men than women, moved to the center of organized reform and figures like Du Bois or Woodson looked past her contributions to the struggle. Beginning in the 1980s, however, a fresh appraisal of African American women's history by scholars like Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, Paula Giddings, and Hazel V. Carby refocused academic attention on Ida B. Wells-Barnett and as a result, her work has become much more accessible and regularly accounted for in the teaching and study of African American history in U.S. secondary and higher education.

Secondary Sources

Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Cortner, Richard C. A Mob Intent on Death: The NAACP and the Arkansas Riot Cases. Wesleyan University Press, 1988.

Fitzhugh Brundage, ed. Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Hall, Jacquelyn Dowd. Revolt Against Chivalry: Jessie Daniel Ames and the Women's Campaign Against Lynching, rev. ed. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Hazel V. Carby, Reconstructing Womanhood: The Rise of the Afro-American Woman Novelist. Cambridge: Harvard, 1987.

Feimster, Crystal Nicole. "Ladies and Lynching: The Gendered Discourse of Mob Violence in the New South, 1880-1930." PhD Diss. Princeton University, 2000.

Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. New York: Bantam, 1984.

Gilmore, Glenda. Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina. 1896-1920. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Hodes, Martha. White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997.

Hair, William Ivy. Carnival of Fury: Robert Charles and the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976.

hooks, bell. Talking Back: Thinking Black, Thinking Feminist. Boston: South End Press, 1989.

Linda O. McMurry. To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Painter, Nell Irvin. Southern History Across the Color Line. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Rudwick, Elliott and August Meier. Race Riot at East St. Louis, July 2, 1917. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964.

Schechter, Patricia A. Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

Tolnay, Stewart Emory. A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.

Useful Links

"We Shall Overcome: Historic Places of the Civil Rights Movement." Ida B. Wells-Barnett House,

African American Perspectives. Short entry on Ida B. Wells-Barnett. (Library of Congress)

National Women's Hall of Fame.

Without Sanctuary: Photographs and Postcards of Lynching in America.

  • 1. G.C. Holt, "Lynching and Mobs" Elizabeth, NJ, 1894 (paper before the American Sociological Association); "Editorial" Colored American Magazine 4 (1902): 279.
  • 2. For just a few recent examples of analyses of lynching see W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Under Sentence of Death: Lynching in the South (University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Stewart Emory Tolnay, A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930 (University of Illinois Press, 1995); Crystal Nicole Feimster, "Ladies and Lynching: The Gendered Discourse of Mob Violence in the New South, 1880-1930" (PhD Diss. Princeton University, 2000).
  • 3. "Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Postscript by W.E.B. Du Bois," Crisis (June 1931): 207.
  • 4. Ida B. Wells-Barnett Diary, Monday 13 January 1930 in Miriam DeCosta Willis, ed., The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells: An Intimate Portrait of the Activist as a Young Woman, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1995), 168.
  • 5. See for example, Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).
  • 6. bell hooks, Talking Back: Thinking Black, Thinking Feminist (Boston: South End Press, 1989).
  • 7. Martha Hodes, White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).
  • 8. Wells, Southern Horrors, in Selected Works of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, ed. and compiled by Trudier Harris (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 19.
  • 9. Ibid, p. 20
  • 10. Linda O. McMurry, To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 384, n. 33.
  • 11. Senate Resolution 39 in February 2005 passed "Apologizing to the victims of lynching and the descendents of those victims for the failure of the senate to pass antilynching legislation."