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In 2025, Ida B. Wells will be one of five women honored on the reverse side of the United States quarter.
Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862. She was the eldest of nine children born to James Madison Wells and Lizzie Wells.
Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a teacher. After the Civil War, she became a teacher and investigative journalist.
Today, Ida B. Wells remains among our most honored and distinguished leaders of all time.
Not only was she a champion of the people, but she was also an staunch supporter of the press. She once said, “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.”
She used her platform to expose the truth about lynching, a form of racial terrorism that was widespread in the South at the time.
“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.” Ida B. Wells
Given the time period, Wells’s work was undeniably groundbreaking and especially courageous.
She traveled extensively throughout the South, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence to expose the lies that were often used to justify lynchings.
Despite constant threats to her own life, Ida B. Wells also wrote emphatically about the economic and social impact of lynching on Black communities.
Wells’s work had a significant impact on public opinion and helped to galvanize what would become the civil rights movement.
The design of her quarter has not yet been revealed.
In 1896, Wells-Barnett married Ferdinand L. Barnett, a lawyer and activist. They had four children together.
Wells was a powerful voice for justice and equality, and her work continues to inspire people around the world.
She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Afterwards, Wells-Barnett continued to write and speak out against lynching and racism throughout her life.
“But it’s just a quarter”
Before scoffing at a quarter’s value in 2025, consider its symbolism.
It was that very twenty five cents which was once charged by Miss Ida B. Wells to read her work.
In 1892 and 1893, Wells published two pamphlets, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and A Red Record, which documented hundreds of lynchings and exposed the economic and sexual motives behind these acts of terror.
For many Blacks, her written work stood out as irrefutable confirmation of the horrors which they encountered.
And it only costs a quarter.
Whether Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill or Wells on a quarter, the generational value these Black women contributed to their people has been incalculable and only grows more immeasurable with time.
Wells later passed at her home in Chicago on March 25, 1931. She was mourned by her family, friends, and supporters around the world.
She was buried in Oak Woods Cemetery.