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Birmingham honours a civil rights heroine

RECOGNITION: Yvonne Mosquito, Lord Mayor of Birmingham, holds the plaque with people from the local community who attended the unveiling (photo: Herbert Walters); inset left, Ida B Wells was a revered campaigner and revolutionary journalist (photo: Chicago Times)

SHE WAS described during her lifetime as “the Princess of the Press”, an in uential
investigative reporter and civil rights campaigner who took on racist lynchings in America’s Deep South in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Now Britain’s second city has honoured the heroic Ida B Wells with a blue plaque.

Wells, who was born in 1862, was arguably one of the most famous women in America during the 1890s when she documented the killing of African Americans through her reporting on the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, the newspaper she co-owned.


She spoke twice in the city in May 1893, urging people to oppose the lynching of African Americans. During her time in Birmingham, she stayed at 66 Gough Road, Edgbaston, where the plaque was unveiled.

Dan Duster, Wells’ great- grandson, said: “As the great grandson, and on behalf of the family of Ida B Wells, I am truly honoured that you are paying tribute to my ancestor with the distinguished blue plaque. Her travels to the United Kingdom were significant in helping to sharpen her skills to fight for justice and equal rights.

He added: “It was in the UK that she was able to further expose the international community to the extent, brutal violence, and reasons used for lynchings that were taking place in the US.

“She established alliances that lasted for decades and learned about community organising, fundraising, plus creating women’s clubs and organisations for social justice.”

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