In Memory of Ida B.

Whenever I think of Women’s History Month, I think of my personal shero, Ida Bell Wells Barnett. I adore for the same reason, I adore State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal. She is unfuckwitable. Why? Google her.

Suffragist.

Wife.

Mother.

Activist.

Women’s Rights Advocate.

Community Organizer.

Writer.

Journalist.

Teacher.

Mother-effin-powerhouse!

I found Ida B. Wells Barnett in fourth grade. There was a power to her I noticed when I was a pouty, moody nine-year-old girl. She was my secret push to continue to write, and command  language and be, or become unfuckwitable. I loved how dynamic she was in a time where to be at the intersection of black and woman was detrimental to sustainable progress.

Ida B. is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about education, my own blackness, writing and the development of my own community. She is the reason why I was committed to becoming a better woman. I revere her like I do my mother, and grandmother. With no plan, clue or map, she did it. Whatever she set her mind to do, she did it. As a little black girl, you need heroes. You need heroes that are ahead of their time, and take a machete to the path they are on to leave a trail for those that are coming behind.

For a little girl that had no idea how to change the world, I needed that path. I needed there to be an Ida B so I could be a Jennifer. I had to see there was someone before me that did what I desired to do with half of what I currently had.

I needed there to be an Ida Bell Wells…I needed to see what I could become.

I always thought it was amazing that she died fifty years before I was born. I thought that her dying in 1931 was significant, mystic even. There was a sense I had to her, with her, that she could have been a grandmother, and I her granddaughter. I felt as though she passed into the next world with secrets and strength I needed.

Yet, she left her books–her words–to remind me, us whom are her fellow oracles,  to keep going. Not to stress, but to push and get through it, because the it doesn’t define me.

That’s what good mothers do. They leave a path. They leave a trail. They make waves and ways. They leave a light.

Thank you Mama Ida. Thank you for showing me what an oracle can be, should be, and is. My prayer is that one day, my work, my words can do the same.

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