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Zoom in: Bronzeville

So far, the city hasn't done right by Ida B. Wells-Barnett


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Chicago hasn't done right by Ida B. Wells-Barnett. An African-American journalist and civil rights activist who died in 1931, Wells anticipated Rosa Parks by decades—in 1884 she was dragged off a train after refusing to move to another section. Wells, who was born in Mississippi, ended up in Chicago by way of Memphis, where she edited a black newspaper called the Free Speech and Headlight, a platform from which she agitated against lynching. In 1894 she moved to Bronzeville and continued her political work, helping to found the NAACP and advocating for women's suffrage.

So far the most high-profile monument to Wells in Chicago has been the Ida B. Wells Homes, the south-side housing project that was razed after descent into crime, poverty, and disrepair. But a local group is trying to do better. Last month the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee announced that it's commissioned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt to create a monument to Wells to go on the median strip at 37th and Langley. The commemoration is planned to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Wells's birth, July 16, 2012.

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