New York Times Magazine staff writer Nikole Hannah-Jones considers Ida B. Wells her spiritual grandmother.
“She is really the template on which I’ve tried to base my own journalistic career,” she tells The Root.
The 2017 MacArthur Genius Grant fellow acknowledges that Wells was one of the original data reporters. Through her work, Ida B. Wells risked her own life to document the cases of lynching that occurred throughout the postbellum South.
“There was no real collection of information on how many black people were being lynched and she began to really record the number of lynchings and what the reasons were,” Hannah-Jones says.
But despite her contributions to the world of journalism and the world at large—as an activist, feminist and co-founder of the NAACP—somehow the legacy of Ida B. Wells is often written out of the American narrative. Hannah-Jones says that as a black woman, Wells found herself fighting two battles.
“I think black women have largely been written out of the histories and the stories of the civil rights movement. Black women, of course, are having to deal with both racism and sexism. And these stories just haven’t really been told,” Hannah-Jones said. “That’s why it’s our job not to wait for other people to tell our stories, but for us to tell our stories and to pass down our legacies amongst ourselves.”
For Women’s History Month, The Root is highlighting the stories of trailblazing women whose stories have gone untold with a series titled She Is _____.
She is Ida B. Wells. Watch the entire video above.