Ida B. Wells and the management of violence

Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 7 (4):111-146 (2004)
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Ida B. Wells (1862?1931) was a considerable figure in her day. But she has not been accorded posthumous acclaim in parallel. This oversight is either just, or an unprecedented historical falsification ? enabled largely through unhappy, gendered misperception. African?American thought for long turned round dispute between accommodation (Washington) and protest (Du Bois) as forms of leadership. Yet this contrast may mislead. First, Washington was more white placeman than black leader. Second, Du Bois, more than anyone, helped diminish, even extinguish, the Wellsian intellectual legacy. If Wells?s arguments (on violence) have critical significance, and Washington?s are insubstantial and time?serving, then the important struggle within African?American leadership may come to be relocated within the protest tradition ? as between Du Bois (romantic Pan?Africanist) and Wells (universal defender of human rights), both recovered by the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Wells possibly more fittingly



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