Permanent Black Man
From left to right, Ald. David Moore, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ida B. Well's great-granddaughter Michelle Duster,
and Ald. Sophia King pose as the street signs for Ida B. Wells Drive are unveiled on Monday, Feb. 11, 2019.
Street signs for Ida B. Wells Drive, formerly Congress Parkway, were unveiled Monday in front of the many supporters and public officials gathered at Harold Washington Library’s Winter Garden.
City alderman voted to rename Congress Parkway after the activist and journalist in June 2018. Ald. Sophia King (4th Ward) noted it was the first official street name change since South Parkway was renamed Martin Luther King Drive in 1968. King and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd Ward) helped champion the effort in City Hall.
“It’s actually bittersweet that it’s taken so long, but we are here,” King said. “She truly was an original boss: spoke truth to power, and walked through fear into justice, and changed the landscape of Chicago and the world.”
Wells was a suffragist, journalist, and civil rights activist, who — among many things — did the dangerous work of reporting on lynchings to show their prevalence around the U.S.
Wells lived in Chicago the last three decades of her life, where generations of her family still live. Wells’ great-granddaughter Michelle Duster, who successfully galvanized organizations and supporters in an effort to build a South Side monument honoring Wells, asked the audience to pause and breathe in the moment.
“My family grew up knowing about the hard work and sacrifice and legacy of our foremother, Ida B. Wells, and the commitment she had to fight for equal rights for African-Americans and women,” Duster said, “And, we also knew that her life was not easy.”