MEMPHIS, TN (TN Tribune) – On Saturday, July 16, 2022, The Memphis Memorial Committee broke ground for the second phase of the Ida B. Wells Memorial Plaza, located at the intersection of 4 th and Beale Streets. Phase Two will transform the plaza from a site that houses her statue to one that further educates the public about the significance and influence of Ida B. Wells’ work and sacrifice. Not far from where Wells’ office was once destroyed, phase two will serve to increase awareness of who Ida B. Wells was as it takes visitors on a journey through her life, giving visitors to Memphis another reason to extend their stay.

The first phase of the project was completed this day last year, July 16, 2021, with the unveiling of a statue of the educator, journalist, and anti-lynching activist, signifying her permanent return to Memphis. “We are excited to announce additional upgrades to further activate the space and educate visitors. The second phase is the next step in elevating the plaza as a significant Memphis Cultural Heritage site,” comments Dr. Rychetta Watkins.

Dr. L. LaSimba Gray, local civil rights activist and organizer of the initiative established The
Memphis Memorial Committee, in partnership with the Neshoba Community Resource Center to support the initiative. Since 2020, the Memphis Memorial Committee has successfully raised over $300K to further construction.

Renderings of the plaza upgrade were unveiled during the ceremony and include:
 granite bands with quotes from Ida B. Wells at plaza entrance;
 placement of the existing statue on a pedestal, raising it up approximately 3 to 4 feet;
 installation of lights around the statue for nighttime viewing;
 donor walkway using ornamental, colorful concrete;
 sculptural elements beneath the pavilions symbolizing the key areas of focus in Ida B.
Wells’ life – Education, Journalism, Women’s Suffrage & Civil Rights Activist;
 wayside/exhibit pylons providing key facts about Ida B. Wells’ work;
 circular pods for seating and viewing the statue and exhibit pylons;
 story wall sharing details about her childhood and young adult;

Ida B. Wells is nationally recognized as an anti-lynching advocate and a champion of civil rights and women’s suffrage. Born in Holly Springs, MS in 1862, she made Memphis home in 1882 and began teaching at Woodstock School in Shelby County. As an educator and journalist, she stood up for justice. Her life was threatened and her office on Beale Street destroyed for reporting on the brutal Memphis lynching of three men in 1892; Thomas Moss, a good friend who owned the People’s Grocery, and his business partners, Will Stewart and Calvin McDowell.

She risked her life to oppose oppression, racism, and violence in America and deserves to be
recognized for her fight against segregation.