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Barbie has announced they are immortalizing famed Black Journalist Ida B. Wells who worked hard to expose the horrors of lynching. The company’s latest addition to their “Inspiring Women” series features Wells with her hair piled atop her head and an 1800s style high neck black dress.
Throughout her life, Wells dealt with violence, racism, and sexism. She was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16, 1862. Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War. After the war ended, her parents became active in Reconstruction Era politics.
Growing up, her parents instilled the importance of education into her. She enrolled at Rust College, however, she was expelled after she started a dispute with the university president.
Wells visited her grandmother in 1878. While there she was informed yellow fever struck her hometown. Unfortunately, both of her parents and infant brother fell victim to the disease. She took a teaching job so she could raise her sister and brother. Wells eventually moved her siblings to Memphis, Tennesee where she continued to work as a teacher.
Reason Why Barbie is Honoring Wells
After one of her friends was lynched, she turned her attention to white mob violence. Wells was suspicious about the reasons why Black men were lynched and set out to investigate several cases. Wells published her findings in a pamphlet and wrote several columns in the local newspapers.
Her exposé about a lynching in 1982 enraged locals. They burned her press and drove Wells from Memphis. The threats against her were so bad that she moved to Chicago, Illinois.
Once there she joined other African American leaders who called for the boycott of the World’s Columbian Exposition. They implicated the committee in locking out African Americans and negatively portraying the Black community.
She married famed African American lawyer Ferdinand Barnett in 1895. They shared four children together. She balanced her activism and motherhood throughout her career.
Shedding Light Around the World
Wells traveled all around the world shedding light on the horrors of lynching to foreign audiences. While there she openly confronted white women in the suffrage movement who turned a blind eye to the lynching.
She was often ostracized and ridiculed by women’s suffrage organizations in the United States because of her stance on the situation.
Wells was a founder of the National Association of Colored Women’s Club which was created to address problems dealing with women’s suffrage and civil rights.
She focused on urban reform in growing Chicago. Wells passed away on March 25, 1931.
In their Instagram post, Barbie said, “When kids learn about heroes like Ida B. Wells, they don’t just imagine a better future — they know they have the power to make it come true.” The new Barbie is set to hit major retailers by Jan. 17, 2022.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CNN: New Barbie honors journalist Ida B. Wells; by Leah Asmelash
National Women’s National Museum: Ida B. Wells-Barnett
WSB-TV 2: New Barbie doll honors civil rights leader Ida B. Wells; by Lauren Silver
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Jorden Esser’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image by Southern Hollows/S. Liles Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License