Teaching Justice: Ida B. Wells in the Suffrage Procession

Newspaper clipping of Ida B. Wells marching with the Illinois delegation in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession
Clipping from the Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper on March 5, 1913 showing Ida B. Wells marching with the Illinois delegation in the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C.

Chicago Daily Tribune

Created in collaboration with the Hard History Project.
Grade Level:

The activity is designed for fourth grade students but is adaptable for all elementary school grades.

Anti-Bias Objectives:

Students will recognize stereotypes and relate to people as individuals rather than representatives of groups.

Students will identify figures, groups, events, and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.

Students will express empathy when people are excluded or mistreated because of their identities and discern when they themselves experience bias.

Students will recognize their own responsibility to stand up to exclusion, prejudice and injustice.
Students will speak up with courage and respect when they or someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias.

Guiding Questions:

Have you ever wondered how to respond when you are told that you cannot do something? Have you seen someone else being excluded or left out?

Watch the video and think about how Ida B. Wells felt when it happened to her.
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1 minute, 2 seconds

Ida B. Wells spent her life fiercely dedicated to truth and equality, including the rights of all to vote. In this Suffrage in 60 Seconds video, hear a story about the way that determination showed up during the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession.


formidable: very powerful or strong, deserving respect
procession: a group of people moving forward together in an organized way, especially as part of a ceremony or for a purpose.
suffrage: the right to vote
suffragist: a person who works for the right to vote, especially for women

Think About It

The women who marched in the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession were demanding to be treated fairly. They wanted the same rights to vote as men But white women suffragists like Alice Paul often treated Black women unfairly. Ida B. Wells-Barnett had faced unfair treatment before, but she was surprised and upset when she was excluded by the other women in her group. She thought that they were all fighting for equality together.

  • What does Ida B. Wells do when she is told that she can't march in the parade with the other women from Illinois?
  • Why do you think Ranger Susan called Ida B. Wells "formidable"?

Not all of the white Illinois suffragists agreed with the decision to exclude Ida. Virginia Brooks and Belle Squire spoke up and said that they would march by her side. They refused to let their friend Ida stand alone.

  • How do you think Ida felt when Virginia and Belle offered to stay with her?
  • When have you seen another person being mistreated? What did you do? Why did you respond that way?

Additional resources

NPS Links
Ida B. Wells People Page
Places of Ida B. Wells
A Noble Endeavor: Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Suffrage
1913 Woman Suffrage Procession
And Nothing Less podcast episode: Truth is of No Color

Jacqueline Woodson reads "The Day You Begin" on Neflix, Jr.
Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio, Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
"The New Kid in Class" short story by Kaitlin Cyca and Monita K. Bell, from Teaching Tolerance magazine.

For Teachers:

Even though women fighting for the right to vote wanted inclusivity, Ida B. Wells finds herself excluded from a suffrage march. She decides to separate herself momentarily, only to reappear at the front of the group, thereby leading it. This sets up a conversation about being excluded, the responsibility to speak up when it is happening to someone else, and ultimately, unleashing the power you have in taking action.

These resources are intended to connect to Ida’s moment of being excluded, and how this universal feeling can be confronted. Begin with the opening question, have students briefly share, then show the video. Continue the discussion, using the follow-up questions as a guide. Outside resources provided can serve to further the discussion or can be shared before viewing the video to set the stage.

Part of a series of articles titled Teaching Justice.

Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Pennsylvania Avenue

Last updated: October 23, 2021