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ida b wells
Ida B. Wells-Barnett

UT’s School of Journalism and Electronic Media will hold its inaugural Ida B. & Beyond Conference on Thursday, March 26.

The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. in UT’s Black Cultural Center, 1800 Melrose Avenue. It is open to the university community and the public.

During the daylong event, attendees will learn about the life, work, and legacy of daring anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett and other like-minded social justice campaigners from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The conference will feature presentations by a number of scholars, among them Jinx Broussard, a professor at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, whose research focuses on Wells-Barnett and other prominent African American communication specialists, and independent scholar James McGrath Morris, who recently published a book about Ethel Payne, known as the “first lady of the black press.”

mia bay
Mia Bay

This event features keynote speaker Mia Bay, the director for the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers University, who recently released her second book about Wells-Barnett. Bay’s address will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the Toyota Auditorium of UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.

Ida B. & Beyond will be held in conjunction with the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication’s fortieth annual Southeast Colloquium and is being funded by UT’s Ready for the World Program, the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, the Commission for Blacks, the College of Communication and Information, the School of Journalism and Electronic Media, the Department of History, and private donations.

The conference is a component of the Ida B. Wells Initiative, an interdisciplinary project to foster student and scholarly research Wells-Barnett and other social justice crusaders.

JEM’s Ida Initiative has facilitated two scholarly panels at national conferences in the past two years, and with the help of students, a permanent site is dedicated to Wells-Barnett. These educational forums have addressed Well-Barnett’s career as a reform journalist, her influence on individuals and social movements, her legacy as a civil and women’s rights pioneer, and her potential to educate others on how to eradicate modern forms of global oppression.

“The Ida Initiative is giving our students an opportunity to learn from—and be inspired by—Wells-Barnett,” said Assistant Professor Amber Roessner, who has overseen the project. “We’re pleased to present an event that helps spotlight the efforts of students and scholars and provides a forum for others to learn about this amazing woman.”

To learn more about the conference, visit, or e-mail Roessner at


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Amber Roessner (865-974-5142,