Congress Parkway to be renamed for Ida B. Wells

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Ida Wells Barnett (1862-1931), 1890s. Photo by R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

CHICAGO — The Chicago City Council on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a plan to rename a portion of Congress Parkway after civil rights icon Ida B. Wells.

The groundbreaking African-American journalist and anti-lynching advocate will now have her moniker attached to a stretch of highway that runs from Grant Park to the Jane Byrne Interchange. It's the first downtown street named for a woman of color.

The move will require mailing addresses along that route to change.

Wells-Barnett, who died at age 69 in 1931, crusaded against the lynching of black men, pushed for women's right to vote and started organizations designed to help African-Americans gain economic and political power.

Interest in Wells' accomplishments has increased in recent years.

Backers of a Chicago monument honoring Wells recently announced enough money has been raised and pledged to build the structure.

The granite and bronze monument will be designed by sculptor Richard Hunt. Wells' great granddaughter, Michelle Duster, says the goal is to have the monument installed next year.

An initial plan to rename Balbo Drive after Wells fell through earlier this year after lawmakers faced opposition from Italian-American groups.


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