WTF Files: Ida B. Wells Statue to Replace Ida B. Wells Housing Projects

black and white photo of Ida B WellsLast week was Ida B. Wells' 150th birthday. To recognize the occasion, the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee hosted a reception in Bronzeville, IL to honor her and pitch for donations for a monument to be designed by Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt. A monument is a great idea, but here's the catch:

The 20-foot granite and bronze piece will be installed at 37th and Langley, the site of the old Ida B. Wells Homes, the public housing development erected a decade after her death.

Say what? As Bakari Kitwana put it on Twitter...

The Ida B. Wells housing projects were torn down several years ago to make room for a mixed-income community called Oakwood Shores. Something tells me that Wells, a woman who dedicated her life to social justice, would prefer the old memorial that people lived in to the new one made out of granite. Further reading: A fitting honor for civil-rights activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett by Laura Washington [Chicago Sun-Times]

by Kelsey Wallace
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6 Comments Have Been Posted

I don't Ida would be too

I don't Ida would be too happy with the amount of homelessness that the demolition of the projects precipitated, either. In the Chicago Housing Authority's overall Plan for Transformation, they're not building as many units as they're demolishing. And in the process, people lose their housing. A lot of the displaced folks end up moving to areas that neighborhoods that have a high or at least significant poverty concentration, which generally does not help them or their new neighbors improve their life chances. The redone area usually looks more twee and shiny, but unfortunately that doesn't equate to the former residents of the project suddenly having shiny new lives.

The old housing projects were complicated, a connected neighborhood and point of identity for some residents and a living hell for others. Still, a place to live is better than none, and no one can live in a statue.

WTF Files: Ida B. Wells Statue to Replace Ida B. Wells Housing

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