Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930

By Patricia A. Schechter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO

Coming of Age in Memphis

etween 1883 and 1892, Ida B. Wells became the most accomplished African American woman journalist of her generation. In these years, she Btransformed, as one editor put it, from "a mere, insignificant, country-bred lass into one of the foremost among the female thinkers of the race to-day. ” 1 Wells came of age in Memphis, Tennessee, in a growing urban and middle-class African American community. By century's end, cities like Memphis, Atlanta, and Washington, D. C., would be the southern homes of black leaders in the United States, a group dubbed the "talented tenth” by the scholar W. E. B. Du Bois in 1903. 2 In his now-famous collection of essays published that year, The Souls of Black Folk, Du Bois described the "talented tenth” as both reason for and result of "the training of black men. ” His book overlooked the fact that this period also produced a "Female Talented Tenth, ” a "renaissance” in African American women's intellectual production, and an upsurge in social organizing led briefly by Ida B. Wells. 3 On the literary front, this wave of female accomplishment crested in 1892 with the publication of Anna Julia Cooper's collected essays, A Voice from the South, Frances E. W. Harper's novel Iola Leroy, and Wells's antilynching pamphlet, Southern Horrors.

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Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Ida B. Wells-Barnett and American Reform, 1880-1930 *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations *
  • Preface *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Introduction *
  • Chapter One - Talking Through Tears *
  • Chapter Two - Coming of Age in Memphis *
  • Chapter Three - The Body in Question *
  • Chapter Four - Progress Against Itself *
  • Chapter Five - Settlements, Suffrage, Setbacks *
  • Chapter Six - For Women, of Women, by Women *
  • Conclusion *
  • Notes *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
  • Gender and American Culture *
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