It is National Month of Women’s Suffrage, a name given by the Congress in collaboration with Centennial Commission for Women’s Suffrage (WSCC) commemorating the struggle for women’s suffrage, the adoption of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution on August 26, 1920, and the continued struggle for full equality for all women. One of the key events is the unveiling of a larger-than-life, interactive photo mosaic of suffragist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) over the next week, created from thousands of historical photos of suffragists.
Titled Our story: portraits of change, The mosaic installation will be on display on the marble floor in the main hall of Union Station in Washington, DC August 24-28. The project is being carried out in collaboration with award-winning visual artist Helen Marshall from the Folk image and Christina Korp from Purpose entertainment. According to the WSCC press releaseEach picture that makes up the larger picture of Ida B. Wells tells “its own story of the struggle for women’s suffrage”. An interactive one online version The mosaic allows you to enlarge the photos and learn more about the suffragists depicted.
If you didn’t know Ida B. Wells, you should. Born into slavery In Holly Springs, Mississippi, she was an American heroine who dedicated nearly 50 years of her life to the fearless struggle for racial justice, civil rights, and women’s suffrage. In 1884 Ida was serving as a teacher in the Shelby County’s school system in Memphis forcibly removed from her place in the “ladies’ car” because she refused to go into a separate railcar. She sued the Chesapeake, Ohio and Southwestern Railway and wrote an article about what was done to her. This inspired her career as an uncompromising journalist and newspaper owner (Memphis Free Speech) who bravely used her platform to expose racial injustice, challenge segregation, and after three of them started a four-decade anti-lynch campaign, friends, enterprising grocers, were brutally murdered by a white lynch mob in 1892.
With pen and voice, Ida investigated other lynchings, wrote editorials indicting lynching in the South and calling for justice, and traveled the US and internationally speaking about the “atrocities of lynching.” Motives behindand “the government’s refusal to intervene to stop them.” In retaliation, Ida’s life was threatened and her newspaper office and printing plant were destroyed while she was out of town.
Ida could not return to Memphis and kept fighting, first in New York, for which she wrote The New York Ageand then work in Chicago on a pamphlet protesting the exclusion of African Americans from the 1893 World’s Fair. There she settled and married Ferdinand L. Barnett (she kept her then unknown surname and separated him from Wells-Barnett). In 1896, Wells founded several civil rights organizations, including the National Association of Colored Women. In 1909 she became one of the founders of the NAACP and in 1913 she became founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, that was the first black women’s election club. In 1930 Ida ran for the Illinois Senate. Wells died in Chicago in 1931 at the age of 69.
Earlier this year Ida B. Wells was posthumously named a Pulitzer Prize Winner 2020 in Special Citations and Awards “For their outstanding and courageous reporting on the terrible and vicious violence against African Americans during the lynching period.”
Union Station was used as the location for the Our story: portraits of change Photo mosaic installation for historical reasons. As the WSCC explains“As the starting point for the“ Prison Special ”campaign tour in February 1919, Union Station in Washington, DC, played an important role in the American suffrage movement. The Prison Special was a train journey organized by suffragists detained on picket lines in the White House in support of federal women’s suffrage change. In February 1919, 26 members of the National Women’s Party boarded a chartered train they referred to as “Democracy Limited” at Union Station and visited cities across the country to speak to a large crowd about their experiences as political prisoners. “
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