Tag Archives: lynching

Kat Allen 9/5/11 – Guilty is Always the Verdict

When reading through all of Ida B. Wells articles about lynching I was shocked and it made me upset to think how many men died due to the insanity and brutality of ruthless mobs.  At first I thought to write about the article Nellie Bly had written about going undercover in an insane asylum because of the detail and characters mentioned, which gave the story so much life, but I read on, only to discover more despair in the lynchings.

Ida B. Wells articles not only told the story chronologically, but also gave the reader insight into both sides; in this case the mobs and the accused.  These articles could have been done in such a way that the reader would have become bored or thought perhaps that the writer was biased, but Ida B. Wells did not do this.  She told the stories based off of the facts that were recorded through these processes and turned the story into something that people cannot put down.  I was expecting a lot of biased comments that would make me hate the mobs that killed these men, but I found myself making my own judgements based off of the facts given in these cases.  In this case, I hated the mobs.

The details in which she described the killings were very in depth, but I think that gave the story a “oh my god” factor and made the reader feel disgusted and mortified that these things could be happening to them or their neighbors.  Ida B. Wells in fact made those dishonors towards those men into reality for the world to see what is truly going on.

By: Kat Allen ’12

Ida B. Wells: Journalist, Editor, Suffragist

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Imagine if Ida B. Wells had the backing and support of a whole newspaper or magazine staff  (photo-journalists, a layout and design staff, and a research department) that could have helped bring her observations to light in a vivid and easily accessible way.  Would there have been as many lynching deaths in the United States?

Wells and others working to raise consciousness about racial violence ran up against the issue of accessibility and distribution.  The map below would not have been known to many people, widely available, or displayed publicly.

Lynchings By States And Counties in the United States 1900-1931 (Data from research department, Tuskegee Institute)

Today, through the advantage of historical distance, as well as technology that can organize data in easy-to-read, interactive, and “shareable” formats, the public is much more aware of how wide-spread lynching was.  See the following links for examples:

Imagine if Ida B. Wells had a blog.  What might it look like?  What would she link to? Who would she follow on Twitter?  Who would be her Facebook friends?  Would she publish photos of lynching victims on-line?

Consider how you use push-button publishing technology and social media.  If there is a cause that you feel passionate about, how might you use the technology at your fingertips to raise awareness about it?

See the Wikipedia article on Wells’ exceptional career and life.