Leaders who changed their worlds
Leadership is the ability of an individual to guide others in the accomplishment of a set goal. Leaders play an essential role in the society, and only those with excellent qualities and adequately established strategies can leave a significant mark on the community (Kouzes, and Posner 31). The leader of my choice is Ida B. Wells. She was a great African American journalist, activist, suffragist, and feminist. The character will be the center of the explorative essay. Throughout her life, the lady fought for the fair treatment of the people with colored skins, especially the African Americans, in the white-dominated society. Information revealed in the essay seeks to answer the question: What were the principal sources of strengths that led to her success amidst the racial heat present in America during her time? The exploration of the problem will lead to the discovery of more facts about the legend, such as how she used power to influence others and the type of a leader that she was.
Ida was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, where she was brought up realizing the troubles that the blacks experienced at the hands of the American whites. Sadly, she lost her parents and a sibling to a yellow fever pandemic while she was just sixteen (Smith 21). She denied suggestions by family members and friends that her siblings should be taken into foster homes. She found a teaching job at a nearby school, where she was able to provide for her family through the little salary that she got. Her grandmother remained with the children at home. At the workplace, she began to directly feel the injustice present in the society as she realized that white American teachers received thrice the pay that she got. This was the beginning of her path towards restoring dignity to the blacks in the society. She greatly influenced other members of the community to fight for their liberty, especially from oppression caused by lynching. She developed movements such as the ‘National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’ (NAACP), and she also led the ‘Civil Rights Movement’. It is undeniable that she was a servant leader that kept the interests of the society before hers. Her primary focus was on creating a culture that treated all individuals fairly. The following are the leadership skills that make Ida still memorable today.
She was empathetic. Empathy is the leadership skill that enables leaders to understand and respond to the situations of other people. The fact that a leader can realize the conditions of other individuals in the society helps them develop the best strategies that make it easier for them to address the situations present in the community. In numerous occasions, she felt the pain and oppression that the blacks experienced, either directly or indirectly. As a result, she developed and led many missions that sought to alleviate the human suffering. For instance, she realized the illegal and inhuman lynching acts present in the society that claimed the lives of many African Americans such as her three friends who had started a grocery business. The government argued that the method was used as a form of punishment for criminal acts committed by the blacks. However, in the real sense, they used the technique to inflict pain and oppress the minor race. Individuals were lynched for any small mistakes, and there were higher instances of lynching done on the blacks as compared to the whites (Wells-Barnett 8). She began her movements that created awareness of the illegality of the action and fought for equal treatment in the society. She utilized her excellent writing skills to reveal the presence of the malicious acts in the community (McMurry 77). Her articles were published in the black newspapers and periodicals and increasingly became recognized.
Secondly, she was a risk taker and a great problem solver. The mere fact that an individual was organizing the society against the white government was a risk by itself. Ida put her life on the line on numerous occasions, as she sought to assist the oppressed in the society. For instance, after learning of the murder of her three friends, she began her primary mission of collecting information in the South concerning lynching. She spent two months gathering stories of lynching in prisons. Her tireless efforts came with numerous threatening messages from the white-led authorities. She fled the region. Some individuals such as Frederick Douglas realized her significant role in liberating the African Americans and agreed to provide financial support to aid her mission. Further, she was courageous. She readily faced the problems present in the society without any form of intimidation. The messages that warned her of death did not waver her relentless efforts of terminating illegal actions in the society. It is only the leaders that are ready to fearlessly face the circumstances present in the nation that can impact on the society (Northous 21). She took her anti-lynching campaigns to the white house and called for the president, William Mckinley, to make the necessary reforms.
Finally, Ida was influential. During one occasion while she was in the prisons in the South collecting data on the government’s actions of lynching, she was able to convince a particular group of individuals that there was hope, despite the current situations that they were in. She observed the hopelessness in their eyes and the sad songs that they sang. She influenced the individuals by telling them that they could have used their faith to ask God to allow them to live and fight for the rights of the oppressed in the society. In another instance, she won a case in court after she was unfairly asked to evacuate a train that she had boarded (McMurry 44). She was also able to influence the entire society and by creating nationwide campaigns that pressured the government on the creation of a fair society. The anti-lynching campaigns were successful and gradually led to a permanent termination of the activity.
In conclusion, Ida B. Wells portrays the character of a quality leader. Throughout her lifetime, she managed to accomplish a lot especially in the creation of a fair society that embraces and respects the African Americans. She was a perfect listener of the problems present in the society, a risk taker and a problem solver. Additionally, she was very courageous and highly influential.by the time that she died at 68, the society had been made a better place for the African Americans.
- Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The truth about leadership: The no-fads, heart-of-the-matter facts you need to know. John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
- McMurry, Linda O. To keep the waters troubled: The life of Ida B. Wells. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2000.
- Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and practice. Sage publications, 2015.
- Smith, Robert W. African Americans, Grades 5-8. Teacher Created Resources, 2011.
- Wells-Barnett, Ida B. On lynchings. Courier Corporation, 2014.
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