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Race and Rights: Willard, Wells, Addams Panel Discussion November 17th

Who gets to be a citizen? How did debates in Chicago around voting, lynching and women’s rights break down across racial lines? How do we think about these divisions today, and why are they relevant?

Race and Rights: Willard, Wells, Addams, the final installment of our “With You or Not at All” series exploring issues of racism in the woman’s suffrage movement, will focus on three significant Chicago-based women activists who were connected in their reform work, but who encountered difficulties in finding common ground. Ida B. Wells, Frances Willard and Jane Addams each worked to expand women’s rights and influence. However, they had significant disagreements in their approaches, informed by their differing views about the impact of race and racism. The discussion will focus on the historical breakdowns in feminism and race for Willard and Addams, and tell the story of Wells’ efforts to hold them each accountable. We will also explore the contemporary resonance of these debates in current movements and in this election year.

Featuring author Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of journalist and anti-lynching advocate Ida B. Wells; historian and author Rima Lunin Schultz; and Lori Osborne, Director, Frances Willard House Museum, the discussion will be moderated by Leslie Harris, Professor, Northwestern University Department of History.

This program is a partnership between theFrances Willard House Museum, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and the history department at Northwestern University in commemoration of the 2020 Suffrage Centennial. Other supporters for this program include Norman W. Harris Lecture Fund, NU; Department of African American Studies, NU; and The Nicholas D. Chabraja Center for Historical Studies, NU. This program is also presented in partnership with Reaching Across Illinois Library System, Aurora Public Library, Gail Borden Public Library, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and Schaumburg Township District Library.

For more information and to register for this FREE online program, follow this link – Race and Rights: Willard, Wells, Addams.


Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

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A Community History Project of the Frances Willard House Museum and Archives

In the 1890s, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union President Frances Willard and journalist and activist Ida B. Wells fought a war of words in the international press over Willard’s lack of public support for Wells’ anti-lynching campaign. Wells called Willard’s moral leadership into question and demanded that Willard and the WCTU join her anti-lynching campaign. Under Willard’s leadership, the WCTU eventually passed resolutions opposing lynching, but Willard’s language and actions complicate her legacy.

Truth Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells is a community history project that explores this conflict. The project includes a digital exhibit of original archival sources, community conversations, and public programs. The goal of the project is to uncover the full truth of the conflict, and explore its many meanings and ramifications for our world today.

To visit the website, please click here.

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