CHICAGO — A monument was unveiled Wednesday honoring iconic Chicago journalist and activist Ida B. Wells.
The new monument, sculpted by Chicago artist Richard Hunt, is called “The Light of Truth.” It’s named after one of Wells’ most famous quotes — “The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
“I speak across the country about Ida B. Wells and there’s name recognition but there’s not recognition about what she did,” great-grandson Daniel Duster said. “It’s like ‘oh Ida B. Wells she helped rescue the slaves right?’ No, no.”
Born into slavery, she turned the light of truth on racism and lynching in the South at the start of Jim Crowe.
“Lynching folks, common, celebrated by white America, festivals, picnics held as one of our own hung from a tree,” Mayor Lightfoot said. “Ida B. Wells unmasked those traditions and sought a better way for us as Americans.”
Because of her work, Wells was exiled from Memphis and she made Chicago home. Here, she fought to give women the right to vote and for safe housing for all.
Her new monument in Bronzeville stands at the site of the former Ida B. Wells Homes.
“What’s troubling in this country is the extent to which we honor not just a very small segment of our population, white men, but white men who were slaveholders, you know if you think about Washington Park and Jackson Park — they’re named after presidents of the United States for sure,” Toni Preckwinkle said. “But slaveholding presidents of the United States, which I would argue is an affront to all of us. What is this? why are we lifting up slaveholders? So I’m very grateful to be part of a celebration that lifts up a fighter for justice.”
In 2018, the city renamed Congress Parkway in her honor.
Speakers at the unveiling ceremony said they hope “The Light of Truth” will remind anyone who walks by to continue the fight Wells started.
“We have to leave here not just feeling good because we created a monument, but leave here charged that we are fulfilling the mission of the woman we are trying to honor today,” said New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.