Making An Impact

Black History Month is a month dedicated to the figureheads and memorable moments that impacted the history of blacks and shaped the United States and even the world today. Two figures in particular, Ida B. Wells and Usain Bolt, each made their mark in history and left a major impact on those around them.

Ida B. Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862. Wells was the oldest of eight siblings, and cared for them once both her parents passed away from yellow fever in the late 1870s. After studying at Rust College and earning her degree, she moved to Memphis, Tennessee to become a teacher. Although she moved to a more northern area, it was not long before she was involved in an argument with a white conductor, who demanded she move from the first-class car and into the “Jim Crow”, or black section. Wells had purchased a first-class ticket, so she refused since the other section did not offer first-class accommodations. The conductor attempted to remove her, but was stopped when Wells bit him aggressively, until finally she was ejected. This led her to become the co-owner and editor for a local black newspaper, “The Free Speech and Headlight,” where she wrote articles in protest of poor black treatment and the failure of blacks to retaliate. She later helped to develop organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Her work for not only blacks, but women as well, helped spark many movements in the black community.
Usain Bolt, a more current and well known athlete, was born in Jamaica on August 21, 1984, to Jennifer and Wellesley Bolt. His athleticism and speed began to show while he attended William Knibb Memorial High School as a cricket player, but his coach felt he would perform better on the track. Bolt immediately began to shine in the 200m dash, earning a time of just 22.04 seconds. He then began training for the Olympics, and although he was unable to compete in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, he made a huge comeback four years later in Beijing. Although he seemed to have a slow start, Bolt took off and not only earned a gold medal, but a world record time of 9.69 seconds. His speed rose him to fame and earned him a spot in the history books. Bolt now uses his influence to help those in need in countries devastated by natural disasters or poor economy. He continues to inspire young athletes around the world to this day.