Reflecting, Honoring, and Disseminating our Stories

On May 27, 1892 in Memphis, Tennessee, a white mob destroyed a local newspaper named the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight run partly by a young black woman. Her office and presses were destroyed because she published true stories describing the horrors of black lynchings in America. These lynchings surged in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation, a form of de facto racial suppression, and because of this, she felt compelled to share this information with the world. Out of fear for her safety, she relocated to Chicago where she would continue her fight for the equality for Black Americans, most notably as a cofounder of civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

My connection to this ‘young black woman’ is more personal than most because in addition to being a civil rights icon, I am honored to say that she is also my great-great aunt. Her name was Ida. B. Wells-Barnett.

Today, despite living in the golden age of information, disinformation thrives. Disinformation continues to perversely influence many channels of the world’s access to knowledge, just like the mobs who aimed at suppressing the horrors and tragedies which have plagued the history of Black Americans. Parts of the internet have become untrustworthy and confusion has come at an all-time high. As an African American who works in tech with so many resources at my disposal, I’m finding it difficult to find credible information on the essence of the black experience.

That’s why our platform’s focus on Black History is so important to me. As an African American designer working at Academia.edu, it makes me extremely proud to know that my work facilitates the free and open dissemination of scholarly knowledge and continues the legacy of Ida in her pursuit to deliver the truths of humankind to the world.

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