“Intersectionality” wouldn’t be coined until 1989, but Ida B. Wells—who was born on July 16, 1862—certainly embodied the theory. The pioneering journalist, editor, activist, author and speaker’s greatest legacy may have been bringing a race analysis of white suffragist movements (led by people like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union’s Frances Willard) into the discourse of Guilded-Age America. And of course Wells’ work went beyond the theorhetical. At high risk to her personal safety, Wells attacked lynching, using pamphlets such as “Southern Horrors” and “The Red Record” to demonstrate how white mobs’ hangings, burnings, castrations and beatings of black people were actually symbols of white supremacy’s inherent insecurity. She offered insights about structural racism that shine in their stark clarity and continuing relevance. Without further ado, here are five to celebrate Wells’ birthday!

 

Bonus: Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, join @EchoingIda on Twitter to celebrate #IdasLegacy with writer Imani Gandy, Ebony, Black Youth Project, This Week in Blackness, Brown Boi Project, Planned Parenthood Black Community and more!