3624 S. Martin Luther King Dr. Chicago, Il.
What are the chances I would visit that address a week after the birthday of its former resident? Obviously the chances are pretty good, because it happened.
That address is the home of my favorite journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett. She lived there from 1919 to 1930.
She was fearless during a time period known as Reconstruction, a time when fear was what African Americans were expected to feel. She investigated and wrote about lynching. She was a founding member of the NAACP. She fought for justice, even at the threat of losing her life. And there I was, at her house, taking in a piece of history.
To Ida’s we go!
My dad decided to take my sister and I on what turned out to be a father-daughter vacation to my favorite city- Chicago. This time though, I’d made up my mind that I was not leaving Chi-town without visiting Ida B. Wells’ home.
So, Monday morning, we took the bus from Michigan Ave. all the way to S. Martin Luther King and ended up in an area called Bronzeville. We soon learned that many other legendary African Americans including Nat King Cole and President Barack Obama had/have homes in that area or nearby.
I should mention though, that my excitement got the best of me and we ended up getting off the bus a few stops too soon, causing us to have to walk about a mile to make it to the home of my role model. (Thanks Popi and Lena for sticking it out with me in the hot weather!).
Fear doesn’t live here
Well’s home was declared a historic landmark in October of 1995.
While I visited there, I met a man named James Lawson. Him and his girlfriend happened to be coming out of the home that Ida no doubt stepped out of during her years of living there.
Mr. Lawson stayed around to chat with me, my dad, and my sister, telling us much about the neighborhood. I learned that he has lived in the area for 2 years and has a strong appreciation for African American history and culture, a love that manifested itself during his college years. I smiled when he said that and I fully shared his sentiments.
Mr. Lawson commended me for admiring Ida B. Wells.
“She definitely is a great role model to have,” he said.
I’m sure we could have talked a greater length, but the beaming sun and cares of the day made us exchange contact information and end our twenty-minute conversation.
So, I think I’ll take my first statement back. It wasn’t by chance that I ended up at Ida B. Wells’ old home exactly one week after her July 16th birthday (I was there July 23rd).
Instead, it was all part of a plan I’d had all along in my sub-conscious: to eventually arrive at the residence of a woman who accomplished so much because she lived above fear. And I’m inspired to do likewise.