Paula Giddings was an articulate and charismatic speaker whose lecture appealed to all ages. From her lecture, I learned how influential Memphis was to Ida B. Wells’ life. What I did not realize was that most of her achievements were achieved in accordance with other groups. Men and progressive Whites helped her achieve her success. What I also learned from Giddings was that Wells wanted to reinterpret this criminal stereotype of Memphis. Wells was significantly influenced by her friend, Thomas Moss, who was lynched for simply owning a grocery store. This spurred on her anti-lynching campaign and she was the first person to even call for an anti lynching federal law. What astounded me was her list of accomplishments. Her list alone is impressive, but when we realize the odds she had to face for being both Black and a woman, her list of accomplishments become astounding. I did not quite understand the magnitude of accomplishment Wells obtained during her lifetime until Paula Giddings spoke. Although she did not live in Memphis long, the impact Memphis had on her life is clearly revealed through her life’s work.
The second lecture called “Lynch and Spectacle: Ida B. Wells, Anti-Lynching Activism and the Use of Photography as Testimony,” was a portrayal of lynching through pictures. What I did not realize was that at first was that while many saw lynching as a repugnant act, they also saw it as a justifiable act for crime control. What astonished me was that even Ida B. Wells believed this. However, there was a significant shift at how lynching was viewed, when race became a key component in it. In Professor Amy Wood’s lecture, she emphasized the impact the photos of lynchings did to the community. It was extremely interesting to me that Ida B. Wells pioneered the use of images in her pamphlet, “The Red Record.” She used the images to stimulate public outrage and to reveal the truth behind the reasons of lynching: it was a form of racial control. The images thus, acted as verification and penetrated the public ignorance surrounding those abhorrent acts. One of her final points that I found most interesting was that these images allowed White Americans to denounce the act of lynchings in the 1930s without actually denouncing segregation. Therefore, it seems as though Ida B. Wells’ anti-lynching campaign was successful in awakening the public to the wrongs of vigilante justice. However, I question whether it was successful in pushing Americans away from segregation.