Poems Dedicated to Ida B. Wells

These poems reinforce the impact that Ida B. Wells had on those which she inspired. Poems discussing her life, ambitions, and legacy have been written from right after her death in 1931 to nearly forty years later. They highlight the hardships and harsh realities that Ida B. Wells had to face and combat in her biting newspaper articles and lectures. These poems emphasize the hope that she brought to black Americans and women with her powerful actions and addresses. Her epic story is memorialized in these works that have touched and inspired thousands of people.

“A Tribute to Ida B. Wells” published in The Chicago Defender on April 18, 1931.

Weeping for you is lost—worthless

As a veil of sorrow tinged despair

That comes from the foul air

Of a clime where man’s access

Is defeat, hushed and desertness.

Your future is no turmoil bare

Of reward, etched in the glare

Of right and wrong, bubbling for


Of black men. Yours is no death,

For you are not dead, but yet

With us in this realm where blatant

woc [sic]

Is out of its ken. buried beneath

Your always vibrant shining web.

Where the glow of justice yet will go.

Wallace Webb Scott

Excerpt from From Mental Pearls, a book of original poems by Bettiola H. Fortson (published by Julius F. Taylor in 1915)

“Queen of Our Race”

Side by side with the whites she walked,

Step after step the Southerners balked,

But Illinois, fond of order and grace,

Stuck to the black Queen of our race.


Page after page in history you’ll read

Of one who was ready and able to lead,

Who set the nation on fire with her pace

And the Heroine will be the Queen of our race.

Excerpt from Independent Voices, a body of work for children by Eve Merriam (released in June of 1968)

“Ida B. Wells”

"...The streets and the sidewalks

Were smooth and wide,

But a Negro still had to step aside.

The mockingbirds sang

As back home they’d sung,

And sometimes from lamp posts

Dark shadows were flung

Just as magnolias had heavily hung

When some special weight

On the branches


Ida B. couldn’t learn

To hold her tongue."