Ida B. Wells was a voracious reader, and had devoured the entirety of Shakespeare and Dickens before she turned twenty. A gifted writer and orator, she was unabashedly candid–in her diaries, she describes the heroine of Les Miserables as “sweet, lovely and all that, but utterly without depth… fit only for love, sunshine [and] flowers.”
Such sweetness was simply not her style. Fearless and uncompromising, she was a fierce opponent of segregation and wrote prolifically on the civil injustices that beleaguered her world. By twenty-five she was editor of the Memphis-based Free Speech and Headlight, and continued to publicly decry inequality even after her printing press was destroyed by a mob of locals who opposed her message.
In 1894, while living in Chicago, she became a paid correspondent for the broadly distributed Daily Inter Ocean, and in 1895 she assumed full control of the Chicago Conservator. As Matt Cruickshank illustrates in today’s Doodle, Wells also travelled and lectured widely, bringing her fiery and impassioned rhetoric all over the world. Read more here.