Group raising money to erect statue on Beale Street honoring journalist and activist Ida B. Wells

Updated: Oct. 26, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A local group is raising money to build a statue of famous suffragist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells and they are asking for your help.

A group called the Memphis Memorial Committee says the corner of Beale Street and South 4th Street, at the end of the Beale Street entertainment district, is a perfect location a statue in honor of Ida B. Wells.

“Ida B. Wells worked in this area! All up and down Beale Street,” said Dr. LaSimba Gray Jr., member of the Memphis Memorial Committee. “In fact she had an office in this church, this very church. She also attended church here.”

Wells was a journalist who ran a local paper, a civil rights activist and suffragist who lived in Memphis for 16 years in the late 19th century.

“Ida B. Wells was run out of town. It’s our goal to bring her back where she will never have to leave again,” said Gray, pastor emeritus of New Sardis Baptist Church.

He is one of the founding members of the Memphis Memorial Committee, which formed in late 2019.

After the 2017 removal of the statues of KKK Grand Wizard Nathan Bedford Forrest and President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, Gray says Wells is the perfect person to honor with a new statue.

“She was a marvelous woman, committed to justice,” Gray said. “She was not afraid of anything or anybody and she put her life on the line time and time again for the cause of justice.”

The Memphis Memorial Committee hopes Memphians help the group achieve their lofty fundraising goal for the statue of $250,000.

“You can give a dollar or a thousand or $10,000,” Gray said. “We want you to join this effort because we want this to be a community effort.”

Gray says they’ve already met with Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland about the idea. The statue proposal will have to pass Memphis city council before it can be built.

To donate, Gray says you can send cash or a check to the Neshoba Community Resource Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, at 7715 E. Holmes Rd. Your donation is tax deductible.

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