IPR has partnered with The Museum of Public Relations to feature some of the many Black PR Pioneers in celebration of Black History Month.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931) was an American journalist who became an activist in the late 1800s after she experienced injustice on a train ride from Memphis to Nashville in 1884. She bought a first-class ticket but was told to move to the “Jim Crow” train car. When she refused, she was forcibly removed from the train. She filed a lawsuit and won, and the event spurred her activism.
After three of her friends were lynched, Wells-Barnett began investigating white mob violence and the lynching of Black men across the Southern United States. In 1892, she started writing news columns and campaigning against lynching. Locals burned down her press office after her exposè about an 1892 lynching.
She led several other major civil rights initiatives, including forming the National Association of Colored Women and serving as a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She wrote books, speeches, columns, and went on speaking tours. Wells-Barnett had a significant impact on the public relations community through her use of the press to expose wrongdoing and promote civil rights.
Read more to learn about Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the significant impact she had on the public relations industry:
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett, National Women’s History Museum
- Ida B. Wells, Biography
- Jim Crow Museum, Ferris State University Jim Crow Era – Timeline – Jim Crow Museum – Ferris State University
- Legal Brief of Ida B. Wells Lawsuit A legal brief for Ida B. Wells’ lawsuit against Chesapeake, Ohio, and Southwestern Railroad Company before the state Supreme Court, 1885. | DPLA