About 200 community members gathered to celebrate the unveiling of the Ida B. Wells statue Friday in Downtown Memphis.
A life-size statue honoring the pioneering journalist, educator and civil rights advocate now stands at Beale and Fourth streets, adjacent to the original office of Wells’ The Free Speech and Headlight newspaper. The unveiling culminated a full week of festivities celebrating Wells’ life and legacy in Memphis.
Before the unveiling, a parade celebrating Wells’ 159th birthday — she was born on July 16, 1862, in Holly Springs, Mississippi — marched down Beale from Main to Fourth. Carriages, Corvettes and musicians with clashing cymbals made their way along the parade route to the site of the ceremony.
As the bronze statue was unveiled, it was met with cheers, applause and drumming.
Descendants of Wells, Michelle Duster and Daniel Duster were among the speakers.
Michelle Duster, president of the Ida B. Wells Foundation of Chicago, thanked the people who have been carrying on Wells’ legacy through their work in Memphis.
“Some people don’t want our stories, our realities, our perspectives to be told, heard or acknowledged,” she said. “But between all of us present today, in the spirit of Ida B. Wells, we will not be silenced. We will not be marginalized. We will not allow our truths, our stories, our experiences to be minimized or erased… What you have created here with this Ida B. Wells statue and Ida B. Wells Plaza is of national significance and a source of pride for our members and the country.”
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