Black History: Special Delivery!!
Known mainly as an civil rights activist, journalist, and anti-lynching advocate, Ida B. Wells Barnett (1862-1931) also founded several organizations that were instrumental in addressing issues faced by the African American community. The Negro Fellowship League was one such organization. In 1908 Ida B Wells Barnett and her husband, Ferdinand Barnett (1852-1936) established the Negro Fellowship League along with some of their bible study group members. The Negro Fellowship League served as a reading room, library, and activity center. It also provided also served as a shelter for young black men in the local community. Beds could be rented for fifty cents per night.
With funding from several donors Wells-Barnett moved the Negro Fellowship League into rented space in 1910. The organization started in part because the local YMCA did not allow black men to be members. It also assisted young men with job leads and entrepreneurial endeavors who were new arrivals to the city of Chicago from southern states that came in droves during the great migration. During this time, Wells-Barnett also worked as a probation officer. She used her role as a probation officer to help many young African American men from entering the criminal justice system. Ferdinand Barnett, her husband provided legal representation to many black men falsely accused of crimes, or who had been unjustly incarcerated. Wells-Barnett also used her probation officer salary to help fund The Negro Fellowship League.
The Negro Fellowship League folded around the time that the National Urban League launched a chapter in the Chicago Area. Many previous supporters began to lend their support to the Urban League and other organizations. Wells-Barnett had also lost her job as a probation officer, which impacted funding for the organization. With declining participation, funding, and support, Well-Barnett closed the Negro Fellowship League in 1920.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett and her husband were true trailblazers!