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How Ida B. Wells Paved The Way For Citizen Journalists Today

Philip Dembinski
Educator and writer Michelle Duster (at left) writes extensively about the life and legacy of her great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells.

Contemporary citizen journalists can find common ground with a trailblazer who was active during the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Ida B. Wells. Motivated by false narratives and the downplaying of abuse of Black Americans in her own day, Wells chronicled the stories of those impacted by lynchings and riots.

One of the narratives she deconstructed was the inaccurate idea that lynchings were only carried out on Black men accused of raping white women. Wells’ data proved that it wasn’t limited to that at all — and that Black men were also frequently the victims of false accusations.

Wells’ quantitative work pioneered the way for data journalism and inspired her great-granddaughter Michelle Duster to dedicate her life to continue countering false narratives.

Duster is an educator and writer who has written extensively about her great-grandmother’s journey. Duster joined Friday’s St. Louis on the Air to talk about how Wells’ life and legacy have relevance today, in a media context where stories are still told through an overwhelmingly white male lens.

Related Event
What: A Conversation with Michelle Duster: Ida B. Wells and Today’s Street Journalism
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4
Where: Join through Zoom

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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