Ida B. Wells: The Original Rosa Parks

Ida B. Wells: The Original Rosa Parks

From the U.S. Census Bureau

Seventy years before Rosa Parks sparked the civil rights movement by refusing to move to the back of a bus, there was Ida B. Wells.

Riding a train in 1884, she was asked by a conductor to move from her seat in the ladies' car to the smoking car. When she refused, it took three men to remove Wells from her seat. She immediately hired a lawyer to bring suit against the railroad, winning 500-dollars in damages.

Although the decision was overturned on appeal, Wells spent the rest of her life as a journalist and tireless crusader against racial injustice. Now, there are just over 300,000 reporters and editors in the U.S., more than half of them women, and five percent African American.

This profile is adapted from Profile America, a radio series produced by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004.

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