Marvelous Women of Monday

Ida B. Wells! This one is pretty long, but completely worth it.

Ida B. Wells was an activist and writer who gained international attention for her publications about the lynchings of African Americans in the South in the 1890s. She was born into slavery in 1862 Mississippi. After emancipation, her father enrolled in Rust College. He was not able to complete his degree because he had to work to support his family, but Ida followed in his footsteps and enrolled at 16. Unfortunately, she was expelled after confronting the college president with “rebellious behavior.”

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Ida was no shrinking violet. While visiting her grandmother, she learned that there had been an outbreak of yellow fever in her hometown. Sadly, both parents and her infant brother died during the epidemic. Friends and family believed that the six remaining Wells children should be split up or sent into foster care. Ida pushed back, and was able to keep her younger siblings together by working as a teacher at a black elementary school. Her grandmother, family, and friends helped watched the children while she was working. Her interest in politics, race, and the causes of African Americans was ignited by her resentment that white teachers made $80 a month while she was only paid $30. In the 1880s, she moved from Mississippi to Memphis with some of her siblings in search of better pay.

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On a side note, I think this is such a pretty picture. She looks so young and determined in it.

Her first real experience with activism came during a train ride from Memphis to the rural area where she taught. The Supreme Court had ruled against the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which sided with the railroad companies that allowed the racial segregation of passengers. Despite having purchased a first-class ticket, Ida was ordered to give up her seat and move to the smoking car. Naturally, she refused. And when she began protesting the treatment of African Americans in the south, two men and the conductor dragged her off the train.

Ida was not having it, and when she returned to Memphis she hired a lawyer and sued the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. And she gained publicity for her case by writing an article in The Living Way (a newsletter for African American churches) about her experience.

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The court decided in her favor and she was awarded $500. Unfortunately, the railroad company appealed, and the Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the decision and ordered Ida to pay court fines. The Court stated this bullshit: “We think it is evident that the purpose of the defendant in error was to harass with a view to this suit, and that her persistence was not in good faith to obtain a comfortable seat for the short ride.” Asshats.

But Ida would not be silenced! She started writing about Jim Crow Laws for editorials in Black newspapers under the pseudonym “Iola.” She was even offered an editorial position for the Evening Star in DC. She went on to purchase a share in the Memphis newspaper, The Free Speech and Headlight, where she continued to write about civil rights and the causes of African Americans. Unfortunately, she was fired from her teaching job by the Memphis Board of Education because many of her articles criticized the conditions of schools for children of color in the area. I highly doubt that the deplorable condition of schools for children of color was news to anyone.

In 1892, she quickly became one the most vocal anti-lynching activists in the country after learning that her friend had been lynched alongside two other men. The three men were Calvin McDowell, Thomas Moss (her friend), and Henry Stewart. They owned a local grocery store, and their success angered the white owners of a store across the street. The white men confronted the Black businessmen for having the audacity to be successful. A scuffle ensued where a few of the white men received injuries, and the three black business owners were arrested and jailed. A white mob captured the men by breaking into the jail, then lynched them. The murders occurred in 1892, but it could easily be a story from today.

Ida was so outraged by their deaths, that she launched her own investigation of lynching in the United States. She returned to a Memphis where Black people were fleeing and stated, “There is, therefore, only one thing left to do; save our money and leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons.” In the end, more than 6,000 Black citizens of Memphis left while others stayed and boycotted white businesses.

She began touring the area and speaking about lynching at African American women’s clubs. She raised over $500 to investigate and publish her results. She first published a pamphlet later that year that detailed her findings, it was titled “Southern Horrors.”

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She continued to give lectures and wrote books. Through her work, she challenged the “rape myth” (typically the rape of a white woman by a black man) that was so frequently used to necessitate and justify the lynching of African Americans. She found that instead of rape, African American lynch victims had challenged the authority of white people or had successfully competed against white people economically, in business, or in politics. As a result of her work, a white mob threatened to kill her and destroyed the offices of her newspaper. Modern studies support her research finding that lynchings were higher when marginal whites where threatened with uncertain economic conditions [source].

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After the mob violence, Ida left Memphis in order to continue her advocacy and work. She lived for a while in England where in 1894 she established the British Anti-Lynching Society. She also used her connections in Britain to shame the racist practices of the United States. In 1895, she returned to the United States to live in Chicago where she married a local attorney and newspaper editor, Ferdinand L. Barnett. Despite having four children, Ida kept fighting and working to advance the causes of civil rights and suffrage (see articles below on issues with that cause). One of my favorite tidbits about Ida is that she was allegedly one of the first American women to keep her last name after marriage. AND her wedding announcement was on the front page of the New York Times. THE NEW YORK TIMES! You go, Ida.

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Before returning to Chicago, Ida had also protested the exclusion of African Americans in the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She helped launch the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) three years later. She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 and actively campaigned for women’s suffrage. There is some disagreement with what happened, but she is not listed as an original founder of the NAACP. She and W.E.B. Du Bois seemed to have had some friction. He claims that she asked to be left off and she wrote that he deliberately excluded her. RUDE.

Ida died at the age of 69 in Chicago. Her Chicago residence is a designated Chicago Landmark. What a life!

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Further information:

  • The Biography website has a nice video about her.
  • The New York Times has an excellent article on the correlation between police violence and lynchings. They specifically focus on speeches that Ida gave regarding violence against Black Americans.
  • NRP has a piece (“The Root: How Racism Tainted Women’s Suffrage“) on Wells and her struggles with the suffrage movement and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union regarding the lack of support by white Americans for the anti-lynching movement.


The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells
National Park Service
National Women’s History Museum
The New York Times

10 Thing Friday

1. The Women’s March is tomorrow!! I’ve learned a lot since last year, but most importantly I’ve been educating myself about the issues surrounding race and women’s movements.

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2. A few articles below that I found thought provoking regarding the Aziz Ansari situation. I don’t think Aziz is a bad person or that he purposely acted maliciously, but I do think do think he coerced something into happening that the other party wasn’t totally on board with. He abused his power and he didn’t respect her cues or hesitation because he wanted sex.

This post by Jameela Jamil on the Aziz Ansari situation was perfect (to me).
 “Aziz, We Tried to Warn You” from Lindy West at the New York Times.

And Anna North’s piece for Vox: “Boys learn at a young age, from pop culture, their elders, and their peers, that it’s normal to have to convince a woman to have sex, and that repeated small violations of her boundaries are an acceptable way to do so — perhaps even the only way.”

3. “Why Sex That’s Consensual Can Still Be Bad. And Why We’re Not Talking About It.

4. Of relevance to the consent conversation, “Men are Killing Thousands of Women a Year for Saying No” and “11 Black Women Who Were Killed for Saying ‘No.” I understand how saying no can feel like an impossible and terrifying option, and it frustrates me to no end when people ask, “why didn’t she just say no?” Do you understand coercion or how scary someone can be when you’re trapped alone with them?

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5. The trailer for the second season of the Handmaid’s Tale is out!!

6. Some fun historical information about Donald Trump’s grandfather who was banished from his home country of Germany for failure to do military service (sounds like draft dodging runs in the family). He certainly wouldn’t have made it in a merit-based immigration system here.

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7. “The Systematic Crushing of a #MeToo Pioneer” I had never heard of Patrica Douglas before this, but holy crap this story is so awful.

8. This looks freaking delicious and I can barely tolerate chicken that isn’t fried.

Sheet Pan Cuban Chicken With Citrus Avocado Salsa | #sheetpan #cuban #chicken #recipes #easy

9. “When Pop Culture Sells Dangerous Myths About Romance.”

A photo illustration depicting Lloyd Dobler of 'Say Anything,' Chuck Bass of 'Gossip Girl,' and Jesse Lacey of the band Brand New

I have had numerous heated arguments with friends over their beloved Say Anything. I have always thought that Lloyd was a total pill and that showing up outside someone’s window with a boombox is CREEPY.

10. They have yet to stream the full episode of the “The Coronation” on The Smithsonian Channel online. I AM HEATED. In the meantime, The Fug Girls have their always fabulous recap up.


Monterey Bay and Monterey Beer

We packed up early on Sunday morning and enjoyed the last view from our campsite. I still can’t get over how close it was to the water.

IMG 7650We started our drive north and I stopped again at almost all of the pull outs. It was just too pretty to pass.
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We also passed this suspicious looking thing:DSC 0485

We learned that it is actually the Point Sur State Historic Park. You can schedule a three-hour audio tour of the facilities, so we will have to do that one day.

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We next stopped at Bixby Creek Bridge. I really appreciate that the people who built the bridges on this road went for fancy instead of basic. There were so many pretty bridges and tunnels!DSC 0491DSC 0494DSC 0495DSC 0497

We then got back on the road headed north toward Monterey.
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Sari suggested we take 17-Mile Drive that follows the coastline of the Monterey Bay. You have to pay $10.25 to access the road, but it was gorgeous! If you’re a golf person, then it also takes you through Pebble Beach. We skipped that part.DSC 0501DSC 0512DSC 0513

Our final stop of our journey was at Alvarado Street Brewery downtown. I sampled six beers and ended up buying four-packs of three of them. I liked it juuuuuuust a bit.IMG 7680

I also had duck confit poutine which was outstanding. Definitely one of the best meals I’ve had.IMG 7686

And then we drove the few hours back to Sacramento since we both had stuff we needed to do on Monday. My dream is to go back and stay at the Lucia Lodge. The cabins are on the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean and it is just gorgeous. It’s expensive (to me), but one day I will stay there!

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Big Sur

After our hike, we loaded up in the car to cruise up Highway 1. I decided to make this trip in January because it’s the tourist low season since it’s typically raining. We got extremely lucky and had gorgeous weather both days. It really could not have been more beautiful, and there were very few people on the road or at view points. What luck! We drove north toward a spot where we wanted to have lunch, and I stopped at every single pull out to take pictures and enjoy the view. It was truly spectacular.

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We stopped at McWay Falls and walked around for a bit.

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And then we kept driving and stopping until Sari declared I couldn’t stop the car again until it was at a place with food. At the recommendation of a co-worker, we had lunch at Nepenthe which offered an unbelievable view from our seats.

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I had their famous “Ambrosiaburger” (delicious) and Sari enjoyed a veggie sandwich. We were both completely pleased with the experience. After lunch, we started working our way south. I would like this house please:

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Our friend Heather recommended we stop at Partington Cove (which is also her last name), so walked down to the cove on the trail.

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It was beautiful and offered a surprise inlet that was through a tunnel in the mountain. It was all very piratey.

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More scenery:

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We stopped at McWay Falls again.

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Then kept driving south toward Gorda where the road is closed due to the landslide last summer.

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We parked along the road and waited for sunset while eating some chips with Dr. Peppers. It was pretty darn perfect.

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We decided to head back to the campground to finish watching the sunset on the beach.
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We had sandwiches for dinner, then built a fire and roasted marshmallows. We didn’t bring graham crackers, but Sari had some chocolate chips, so we made “mouth s’mores” by pouring the chocolate chips in followed by the roasted marshmallow. We are very refined ladies.

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I felt particularly proud because we made a fire and the obnoxious guy next to us couldn’t get his going. We let him use our fire to help light his several times and even gave him a log that was already on fire. His lady companion recommended that they find something to use as tinder, but he persisted in trying to make a fire using only the large logs. Naturally, that shit doesn’t work. We quietly giggled while we played Scrabble next to our roaring fire. Unfortunately, Sari started getting a migraine and had to go hide in her tent at 7:30. Thankfully, she was able to get a lot of sleep and felt better by the morning.

I stayed by the fire and read for a few hours and tried to ignore Mr. No Fire telling his lady friend about his high school swimming career for HOURS. He told her about every race and the guy was at least in his mid-20s. He once almost beat a guy that made it to the Olympic trials (but not to the Olympic team). WHAT A STORY. What is about men and their desperate clinging to their high school athletic glory days?

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Sole of the River

After work on Friday, Sari and I drove south to spend the weekend camping at Big Sur. After doing a lot of research, I reserved a campsite in Limekiln State Park. We arrived just after 11 p.m. and got to work setting up our tents. I have never set up a tent by myself, much less in the dark, but it was far easier than I could have ever imagined. I remember my dad putting up our tent as kids and it seemed like it took one hundred years to put together the poles, then to snake them through the lining of the tent. I am thrilled to see that things have improved. I got the Passage 2 tent from REI and it was so easy an actual idiot (me!) could put it up. It’s a two-person tent, and while the likelihood of another person ever sharing a tent with me is looking like never, I bought it for the extra space because CLAUSTROPHOBIA.

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We both brought twin-sized air mattress (also a good reason for the two-person tent as it wouldn’t fit in a tent for one) and I excitedly pulled out my pump while Sari started blowing hers up with her mouth. Much to my great dismay, I realized that I had not checked the pump before we left the house and it was dead. So, I also had to blow up my air mattress myself. I honestly didn’t think I could do it, but I persisted. Sari was in her tent asleep in about seven minutes, but I had packed like a moron and had to keep getting up to get things out of the car. And it took me what felt like 37 years to get that damn mattress blown up. I finally fell asleep around 1. We woke up bright and early the next morning to a gorgeous view.

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We reserved one of the ocean front spots, and it was awesome. The sound of the water thundering all night was an unexpected joy, and the view in the morning was spectacular. Another benefit to this campground is that there were only 12 spots in our area, so it was quiet and uncrowded. You can also reserve campsites that are farther back in the redwoods. I highly recommend the Limekiln campground if you’re every going to Big Sur. There was a bathroom and shower that they cleaned every morning which was nice. I think ocean front campsite 2 is the best (we were in six) because you’re closest to the water and furthest from the people.

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After eating cereal, we walked to the back of the campground to take the very short walk down Limekiln Trail to see a waterfall. The trail took us through redwoods and by a small creek with crystal clear water. It was beautiful and there wasn’t another soul around.

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While we were at the waterfall, Sari looked down and said seriously, “there’s a soul in the river.” I was just thinking about how she had become too Californian and I needed to emergency evacuate her back to Texas for conversion therapy when she hopped over a rock and grabbed an actual sole of a shoe out of the river. She proudly held it up (ew) and declared that “The river has no sole now!”

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She’s a strange child. After the waterfall, we walked down another trail to see the lime kilns where they used to process the lime out of rocks. They were completely creepy and looked like a great spot for murder most foul.

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We didn’t hang around there long, but we greatly enjoyed our walk back through the redwood grove.

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The rest of the day tomorrow. Prepare yourself for majestic beaches and cliffs!