Ida B. Wells, pioneering voice for civil rights, may soon have statue on Beale Street

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Plans are moving full steam ahead for a new statue on Beale Street honoring renowned journalist and civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells.

Wells stood up to lynching and injustice against African Americans as a journalist in Memphis in the late 1800s.

Dr. Lasimba Gray is chairing the Memphis Memorial Committee, the group dedicated to erecting the statue in Memphis, at the corner of Beale and Fourth.

“The lady just had courage and commitment, and you put those two together you got a winning combination,” Gray said. “And that’s what  she did, that’s her legacy. and that’s why we need to honor and celebrate this lady.”

The $250,000 life-size statue of Wells will be inside Church Park. So far, $50,000 of the cost has been raised and is being matched.

“We will then go to the entire community, asking everybody to give and to match their commitment to this, this woman,” Gray said.

Wells was born as a slave July 16, 1862 in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She lived in Memphis for 10 years, working as an educator and a journalist.

She took a stand against injustice, racism and lynchings, often writing about them in news articles. She was forced out of Memphis after threats on her life.

“Run out of memphis, and we’re gonna bring it back,” Gray said. “She’ll never have to leave again.”

Dr. David Acey is on the committee and says now is the time for an Ida B. Wells statue.

“We noticed that there’s not one female statue on Beale Street,” Acey said. “We have Elvis up at the top. We have W.C. Handy. Now we’re going to have Ida B. Wells down at Robert Church Park, another historical place in the history of Memphis.”

The location of the statue will be right next to where Wells ran her newspaper inside First Baptist Beale Street Church. Organizers hope it inspires others.

“Hopefully they’ll be inspired to make history, the way Ida B. Wells made history — fighting for the voiceless, standing up for those who cannot stand for themselves,” Gray said.

The statue has already been commissioned by two artists in Eads, Tennessee.

Help make it happen

If you want to be a part of making it happen, you can make tax-deductible donations to Neshoba Community Resource Center at 7715 East Holmes Road, Memphis, TN 38125, or call 901-754-3979. You can also donate through Paypal, Venmo or Cashapp by searching for idabwellstatue@gmail.com

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