After getting the side-eye for Google Maps being so racist, Google is ready to be forgiven. The search engine put Ida B. Wells on the main page in honor of the celebrated activist and journalist’s 153rd birthday.
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.
Today, for her 153rd birthday, we salute Ida B. Wells with a Doodle that commemorates her journalistic mettle and her unequivocal commitment to the advancement of civil liberties.
Wells was born a slave in Mississippi in 1862 and is among the earliest activists to lead, what we now know as Civil Rights movement. She died in 1931 at age 68.