There are several organizations that have proposed renaming Balbo to honor my great-grandmother Ida B Wells-Barnett. I understand that there are some with strong feelings about the city of Chicago continuing to honor Italo Balbo with both a street name and monument in the downtown area.
My great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, should be able to receive honor from the city without it causing ire from anyone. She was born a slave and spent over 45 years of her life fighting for justice and equality for women, African Americans and other marginalized people. She was a journalist, civil rights activist, and suffragist, among other things. After fleeing the South as a result of death threats, she married and settled in Chicago where she worked and raised her family for the last 35 years of her life.
I am hopeful that we will figure out some kind of solution regarding street names that makes everyone feel that things are fair. In the meantime, I want to believe that those who are passionate about honoring my great-grandmother will support the efforts to create a monument in her honor. The Ida B Wells Commemorative Art Committee, of which I am a part, has been involved in this project for 10 years and counting. That is way longer than I ever expected, considering the fact that my great-grandmother was one of the most well-known of her day and the sculptor Richard Hunt is world-renowned. Let’s work to get the Ida B. Wells monument funded by her July 16 birthday and completed as soon as possible after that.
With a monument on the land where the Ida B Wells Homes once stood, plus whatever honors will be bestowed upon her downtown, Chicago should feel proud to honor an African-American woman who was a trailblazer and national leader. Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a longtime resident of Chicago and spent her life fighting for truth, justice and equality.
To support the monument visit www.idabwellsmonument.org
Michelle Duster, South Side
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