Finding Ida....

Hey scholars! 

This post is an ode or letter to my personal heroine, Ida B. Wells-Barnett. 




As a kid, I was shy, quiet, and hated being the center of attention. I remember learning about Ida B. Wells, maybe it was second grade or third grade, whichever grade, this woman, her soul, and journey in life had such an impact on my life. What made such an impression on me as a kid was her courage in her fight against anti-lynching in Jim Crow’s America. At a young age, I felt that if this woman could be so brave in the face of such hatred of black people, certainly I could face whatever made me fearful. This is not to say that my fears were gone, quite the contrary. I just thought of her (What Would Ida Do?) and faced my fears head on. I told myself not to run away, but to go forward, fears, doubts, insecurities, and all.

Let’s fast forward to graduate school with the spirit of Ida B. Wells on my mind and in my heart. Journey to Memphis. During my research for doctoral programs, I came across so many across many different disciplines that were of interest to me. Long story short (I may share it one day), I looked at the department of history at the University of Memphis. I was drawn to what I saw. I took note of what the application process entailed and kept researching. By December 2013, I had my materials together and was ready to submit them to UofM and several other schools.

March 2014, I got an email from UofM, I got in! As the spring and summer months rolled around, I got more acceptance letters; I also got a Teaching Assistantship from UofM. I knew that is where I was going to pursue doctoral studies. I was going to the place where my personal heroine launched her journalism career and anti-lynching crusade.


A former professor told me before I moved here that I was going to be presented with many opportunities and that I should take advantage of every one of them. As I have been presented with opportunities, I remember those words and I think of Ida and I go forward. I set foot in Memphis on Friday, August 15th, 2014. That evening, I am on Beale Street, the marker dedicated to her is here.  




Ida, I am here in this place where you were so time ago. I am here hoping that whatever form you have taken since your physical body has been laid to rest, knows how I feel about you. Hoping that your spirit is proud that your legacy is being acknowledged and honored.

Hoping that although our journeys are different, that you know who you were, means the world to me.

Hoping that you are proud of the woman I have grown to be and will become.

Hoping, that me being in this place means more than working towards a degree.

Hoping that although you asked blacks to leave Memphis, that you understand why I had to come here.

Hoping that my activism makes you proud.      

Hoping, that whatever comes after this journey called life, that my spirit meets yours and I can communicate with you.

Hoping….

To Ida.

Love,

Rebekkah  


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