Ida B. Wells Becomes The First Black Woman To Have A Downtown Chicago Street Named After Her
Wells, a journalist, was known for her anti-lynching activism.
February 12, 2019 at 1:11 am
A downtown Chicago street has been renamed after famed journalist Ida B. Wells.
The former Congress Parkway was dedicated to Wells on Monday, reports Curbed. Ida B. Wells Drive is the first downtown Chicago street named after a Black woman in the city’s history.
Wells became famous in the 19th century when she went on a crusade against lynching after three of her friends were murdered.
Her articles about the tragedies resulted in her offices being vandalized, according to Britannica. She eventually left Memphis for Chicago, fearing for her safety. Undeterred, she continued her anti-lynching work.
Wells is also known for being dragged from a train car after she refused to give up her seat in a first-class cabin in 1884, over 70 years before Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Michelle Duster, president of the Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation and Wells’ great-granddaughter, believes the honor is long overdue, according to Blockclub Chicago.
“To me, it’s extremely significant, especially seeing that Chicago was founded by a Black man [Jean Baptiste Point du Sable]. For a city to go a hundred years without a street named after an African-American or a woman is something to note,” Duster said. “It’s a huge achievement to have a major street downtown named after a Black woman.”
Dedication keynote speaker Chaz Ebert said the renaming is already having a positive effect on her family.
“[My daughter and I] were practically in tears. She said, ‘Mom look at this, already, it says to turn down Ida Drive,’” Ebert said. “Now, on all of our maps, our navigation systems and to our lost tourists — everybody — we will tell them to turn down Ida Drive.”
This is the first street name change in Chicago since South Park Way was renamed for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
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