Ida B. Wells to the Anti-Lynching Bureau

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Letter to the Anti-Lynching Bureau  (1902) 
by Ida B. Wells

Office of Anti-Lynching Bureau
2939 Princeton Avenue
Chicago

To the Members of the Anti-Lynching Bureau:

The year of 1901 with its lynching record is a thing of the past. There were 135 human beings that met death at the hands of mobs during this year. Not only is the list larger than for four years past, but the barbarism of this lawlessness is on the increase. Six human beings were burned alive between January 1st 1901 and Jan. 1st 1902. More persons met death in this horrible manner the past twelve months than in three years before and in proportion as the number roasted alive increases, in the same proportion has has there been an indifference manifested by the public. Time was when the country resounded with denunciation and the horror of burning a human being by so called christian and civilized people. The newspapers were full of it. The last time a human being was made fuel for flames it was scarcely noticed in the papers editorially. And the chairman of your bureau finds it harder every year to get such matter printed. In other words, the need for agitation and publication of facts is greater than ever, while the avenues through which to make such publications have decreased. Nowhere does this apathetic condition prevail to a greater extent than within the membership of the Anti-Lynching Bureau. When the bureau was first organized three years ago, it was thought that every man, woman, and child who had a drop of Negro blood in his veins and every person else who wanted to see mob law put down would gladly contribute 25 cents per year to this end. There were upward of 300 responses to the first appeal and less than 50 per cent renewed at the end of that year. The third year of the bureau's existence is half over and although the chairman has determined to issue a periodical, there are absolutely no funds in the treasury to pay postage much less the printer. Nevertheless my faith in the justice of our cause and the absolute need of this agitation leads me to again address those who have shown 25 cents worth of interest in the matter heretofore. I send with this circular a pamphlet which friends have helped to pay for. It was thought best to begin with what to us was the beginning of history for our race in the United States the Reconstruction period. In view of the recent agitation in Congress and out anent the disfranchisement of the Negro and the causes alleged therefore it was thought best to throw some light on those times and give some unwritten history. This history is written by one who can say with Julius Caesar of the history he wrote: "All of which I saw and part of which I was." He has given his time and money to aid the publication. Will not the members of the bureau bestir themselves to circulate this number and aid in the publication of others. We can only change public sentiment and enforce laws by educating the people., giving them facts. This you can do by 1st, Renewing your membership in the Anti-Lynching Bureau and securing others. 2nd, By paying for the copy sent you and purchasing others to distribute. 3rd. By paying for the copy of the Reconstruction "Review" to your Congressman together with a letter urging the cutting down of the representation in Congress of the states which have nullified the Constitution. It rests with you to say whether the Anti-Lynching Bureau shall be strengthened to do its work for the future.

Jan. 1st, 1902 Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Chairman