Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an American investigative journalist, educator, and an early leader in the civil rights movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Over the course of a lifetime dedicated to combating prejudice and violence, and the fight for African American equality, especially that of women, Wells arguably became the most famous black woman in America.

Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, Wells was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation during the American Civil War. At the age of 16, she lost both her parents and her infant brother in the 1878 yellow fever epidemic

  • Journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist.
  • A leader of the Civil Rights Movement; active in women’s suffrage and rights.
  • In 1887, she sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company for $500 and won, but had her case overturned by the Supreme court of Tennessee. She bought a portion of a Memphis newspaper, the Free Speech and Headlight, and used it as her platform to champion African American civil rights.
  • Co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
  • Documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s; wrote that it was often used in the South as a way to control or punish Black people who competed with Whites.