Ida B. Wells Becomes First Black Woman With A Chicago Street Named After Her

Jay Koziarz

The Windy City's Congress Parkway now bears the name of the iconic civil rights leader, who put her life on the line to expose injustice.
Tanya A. Christian Feb, 12, 2019

On Monday, Chicago officials, along with family members and community leaders, made Ida B. Wells an official street designation. The signs bearing the African-American journalist, author and activist’s name were unveiled at the Chicago Public Library. They now hang on what used to be Congress Parkway.  

“This woman … was not just an inspiration to me, as a Black woman in politics, but one who endured so much so that we could all stand here today in service to our communities,” Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said at the naming ceremony. “Ida B. Wells spent her life as an activist, and seeking to ensure that women, and Black women in particular, were not isolated from political movements, despite the racism and sexism we must often contend with, even to this day.”

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Ida B. Wells was a longtime resident of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and made a significant impact on her community.  Through her writing, she exposed the injustices happening throughout the nation, and through her activism, she fought for equality and equity for Black people and women.

As the Chicago Tribune reported, Wells, ran a settlement house on the South Side that provided African-Americans migrating from southern states, social services, and housing to assist in relocation.  She also had a hand in creating the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the National Association for Colored Women.

“She overcame long odds and high obstacles with hard work and eternal hope,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at the designation. “Listening to the voiceless and the vulnerable — that is how she wrote history. Now Chicago will tell her story.”