law that would remove lynching from local jurisdictions and try lynchers in federal courts, where there was at least a possibility of conviction.
After the Dyer Bill of 1918 encountered the roadblock of states' rights, the NAACP and its congressional allies tried various weaker formulations that punished not lynchers but local authorities who refused to prosecute them. Regardless of the wording, every federal anti-lynching bill from 1918 to 1950 stumbled somewhere along the road to enactment. Since the 1960s, however, the federal government has prosecuted acquitted lynchers for the violation of their victims' civil rights.
After the NAACP launched its anti-lynching crusade, Wells-Barnett continued her own, but at a slower pace. Her major activities were investigations of particular race riots and lynchings. These included a 1909 riot in Cairo, Illinois, and one in East Saint Louis, Illinois, in 1917. In 1919 she returned to the South for the first time since 1892, to investigate a riot in Elaine, Arkansas, during which twenty-five African Americans were killed and for which twelve more were sentenced to death. Wells-Barnett's efforts were instrumental in getting the twelve men released. She continued to denounce injustice in speeches and print.
Lynching had been Wells-Barnett's primary concern, but not her only one. Following the Springfield riot, she was able to raise funds to establish the Negro Fellowship League in 1910. It served the purposes of a settlement house for black men in Chicago. She also was active in the woman's suffrage movement and in 1913 founded the Alpha Suffrage Club in Chicago. That year she desegregated a suffrage march in Washington, D.C., by slipping into the Illinois delegation at the last moment. In addition, from 1913 to 1916 Wells-Barnett served as an adult probation officer in Chicago.
Always busy, Wells-Barnett participated in many organizations, including the Republican party. In the three years prior to her death, she began her autobiography and ran for the state senate. On 25 March 1931 death finally silenced her angry voice--a feat no other force could accomplish. That voice had forced white America to confront the myths that excused lynching. With the ugly realities of mob violence laid bare, white voices from all regions joined the black cries for justice. Less than five months before the death of Wells-Barnett, a group of white women met in Atlanta and listened to one of their own refute the link between rape and lynching. Almost four decades after Wells spoke out, Jessie Daniel Ames echoed her words and kept her message alive.