Ida B. Wells statue close up

Penning, Printing and Pressing On: The Ida B. Wells Statue

This article originally appeared in Volume I, Issue I of StoryBoard Memphis Quarterly in November 2021, page 22-23.

Penning, Printing and Pressing On

There’s nothing civil about lynching 
Being run out of town
And being asked to give up your train seat
to someone “they” deemed more deserving and better 
than You
Someone much lighter, than you
So “they” deemed her more ladylike, 
more human, than you

So many know about Rosa on the bus, 
but how many know 
about Ida on the train
Although considered last
by the masses 
and the conductor
Ms. Wells chose first class seating
Justifiably so, she reign

Penning lesson plans and unjust woes 
of Black folk

Thrown off the train one could only imagine 
Ms. Wells fighting teeth and nail 

Printing in the flesh of foes
for not just a seat 
but for dignity
Dragged to no avail

with brawn and wit she prevailed
A victory short lived
but a true legacy 
She lived

As I walk Beale, I  journal to educate 
I feel your presence 
As I pen poems to activate knowledge 
Your foot steps I follow
Shoes way too big
Tight too
but in the spirit of freedom
I walk inspired by you

From Shaw, Rust College now
to Education, Journalism and

I press

Wells of courage
of knowledge 
of fearlessness
Pour into the
of Memphis, from the roots of Mississippi 
to your sweet resting home 
Chicago and beyond

Pouring from your pen to pages
Printing and Pressing On
Ida B back on Beale

Taller than


Our rights
and exposing and defying 
their wrongs

Penning, Printing and Pressing On
just as she did as she shook 
dust from her dress after 
being thrown off the train 
she propels forward taking flight 
And still

She stands at the corner 
Of 4th and Beale
For us all

Newspaper/notepad/journal/speech in hand
Raw ugly truth she tells and demands

Agitating the lynchers 
of Black prospering lives
shutting down little white lies  
In the midst of the 
Memphis Heritage Trail/historic loop

Paper in hand
Hand on hip
She stands

The Educator
The Journalist
The Activist
The Entrepreneur



Penning, Printing and Pressing On
Homegrown Memphians 
tell what they know of you

Ms. Ida B. Wells

Solid grounded, yet still taking flight
despite the perilous plight

Jeanine Jones is a small P.E.A. (Poet, Educator, Author) in a big pot, packing a lot of flavor.  She loves the arts and uses poetry as her gel to make literacy stick. She has written five books and plays, including We Can All Decorate the Same Tree.

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One Reply to “Penning, Printing and Pressing On: The Ida B. Wells Statue”

  1. This is wonderful! I have always admired people who can write, and it takes a lot of work for me to do the same. Thank you for a great poem.

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