22 Ida B. Wells Quotes About Injustice, Truth and Virtue

Ida B. Wells was a remarkable human: a groundbreaking African American journalist, civil rights leader and anti-lynching activist. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862 (just before the Emancipation Proclamation), Wells went on to dedicate her life to passionately campaigning against lynching and fighting for racial justice. It's no wonder there are so many powerful Ida B. Wells quotes to share.

Wells' unflinching journalism and speeches were instrumental in exposing the brutal realities of this violence to the world and galvanizing the anti-lynching movement. Despite facing threats, intimidation tactics and even having her newspaper office destroyed, Wells remained steadfast in her pursuit of truth and equality. She was a true trailblazer and left an indelible legacy.

Here are some of her most powerful, famous and thought-provoking quotes.

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22 Ida B. Wells Quotes



1. “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them."



2. “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”

3. "One had better die fighting against injustice than to die like a dog or a rat in a trap."

4. "Virtue knows no color line, and the chivalry which depends upon complexion of skin and texture of hair can command no honest respect."

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5. "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and it does seem to me that notwithstanding all these social agencies and activities there is not that vigilance which should be exercised in the preservation of our rights."

6. "Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob."

7. "Burning and torture here lasts but a little while, but if I die with a lie on my soul, I shall be tortured forever. I am innocent."

8. "The miscegnation laws of the South only operate against the legitimate union of the races; they leave the white man free to seduce all the colored girls he can, but it is death to the colored man who yields to the force and advances of a similar attraction in white women."

9. “The South is brutalized to a degree not realized by its own inhabitants, and the very foundation of government, law and order, are imperilled.”

10. “Brave men do not gather by thousands to torture and murder a single individual, so gagged and bound he cannot make even feeble resistance or defense.”

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11. "Can you remain silent and inactive when such things are done in our own community and country?"

12. "The white man's victory soon became complete by fraud, violence, intimidation and murder."

13. "The white man's dollar is his god, and to stop this will be to stop outrages in many localities."

14. "Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so."

15. "The mob spirit has grown with the increasing intelligence of the Afro-American."

16. "The alleged menace of universal suffrage having been avoided by the absolute suppression of the negro vote, the spirit of mob murder should have been satisfied and the butchery of negroes should have ceased."

17. "It was always a remarkable feature in these insurrections and riots that only Negroes were killed during the rioting, and that all the white men escaped unharmed."

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18. "It is a well-established principle of law that every wrong has a remedy. Herein rests our respect for law."

19. "The very frequent inquiry made after my lectures by interested friends is 'What can I do to help the cause?' The answer always is: 'Tell the world the facts.'"

20. "When the Christian world knows the alarming growth and extent of outlawry in our land, some means will be found to stop it."

21. "The matter came up for judicial investigation, but as might have been expected, the white people concluded it was unnecessary to wait the result of the investigation—that it was preferable to hang the accused first and try him afterward."

22. "If this work can contribute in any way toward proving this, and at the same time arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen, and punishment by law for the lawless, I shall feel I have done my race a service."

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