To: Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Date: July 15,2021
First, the good news:
Your family’s love for you and perseverance has finally come to fruition with a national monument dedicated to your spirit and to your vigorous crusade for the dignity and equal protection of Black people and all women. The monument in your honor was revealed on June 30, 2021, in a Chicago neighborhood where everyday people can be inspired by your legacy.
Now, some news that is not so encouraging:
In the 245th year of the United States, there has been some real progress in moving our nation closer to noble ideas about living in a democracy. However, the atmosphere and tenor of the current time tends to overshadow the good that has been accomplished.
You probably will not be surprised that it is because of the glimpses of progress of the overcomers that the backlash against marginalized people in general, and Black people in particular, has been swift and unrelenting. The biggest and harshest blow is the effort to silence the voices of those of us who have only recently been allowed to be heard through our right to vote.
While the current fundamental instrument to achieve equal rights and protections is the vote, the effort to distract our attention from this prize is effective, indeed. The distraction is disguised as genuine concern about the negative impact on White people if the history of Black people and White people in the United States that led to a culture and laws that presupposes superior and inferior people is mentioned, taught, or discussed.
Oh, how we wish we could read one of your fiery columns about what is going on now. Barring that, we need only reread what you have written and be motivated to keep our feet straight on the path to achieve what all people deserve in a democratic society and as human beings.
Those of us who are inspired by your legacy will continue to remind all of our brothers and sisters, regardless of race, that our only shield, staff, and way forward is through the vote.