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Leah Johnson is a University of Michigan- Dearborn graduate and she has a B.A. d
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on Wednesday, 19 September 2012
in Today in Black History

Chatting with a relative of my "She-ro"

The definition of inspire is to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc

Inspiration took place during my recent conversation with Michelle Duster, the great-granddaughter of my "She-ro" Ida B. Wells, the activist and anti-lynching crusader.

Michelle exudes graciousness and humility. One would think that being a relative of someone as powerful and dynamic as Ida B. Wells would make a person proud or arrogant, but Michelle is neither.

She spoke about her great-grandmother with such ease, making her out to be an ordinary woman despite achieving extraordinary things by means of her work and writings. She said Ida had strong convictions and remained positive. 

"She was an optimist. I think you have to be an optimist to be an activist, and that's what she was," Michelle said.

To Be A Woman

Ida B. Wells lived during a time when women were certainly not encouraged to be in the public eye. Therefore, the fact that she traveled, spoke publicly, and founded organizations displayed her zeal despite not receiving support at all times.

As Michelle talked, she tried to put herself back in her great-grandmother's time, imagining what it must have been like to be a woman then.  She said that her great- grandmother's determination encourages her to continue moving forward as a focused woman.


After speaking with Michelle, I was further convinced that I made the right choice to minor in Africana Studies three years ago in college. I was certain that I'd made the right choice in selecting Ida B. Wells as my "She-ro." Until college, I'd never heard of Ida B. Wells (nor did I know that she was barely five feet tall, much like myself), but when I learned about this woman I immediately began to study her and admire her work.

I'm grateful to have gotten a glimpse of the woman Ida was by means of talking with Michelle. Maybe Michelle and I connected because we are both writers. Maybe we connected because we see the importance of being strong, confident women. Maybe we connected because of my endeavor to launch a magazine that will inspire young girls and women. Whatever the reason, the point is, we connected and inspired each other.

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Leah Johnson is a University of Michigan- Dearborn graduate and she has a B.A. degree in Communication. In college, she minored in Psychology and African American Studies after developing a love her history, culture and African American literature. She currently works in the Communication and Marketing Department at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

Two of Leah's "She-ros" are Ida B. Wells Barnett, the fearless journalist who exposed the truth about lynching, and Madame CJ Walker, the first self-made African American female millionaire. "I love these women because they were determined and did what was necessary to succeed and defend the truth. That lets me know that I can be a successful African American woman as well," said Leah.

In her spare time, Leah enjoys traveling, bowling, shoe shopping, and spending time with friends and family.