Columbia Journalism School to Honor Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Historic symposium will bring journalism, art and scholarly voices to Pulitzer Hall; Bust of Wells to be unveiled during the day-long event

March 18, 2024

Columbia Journalism School will host a day-long symposium on March 25 to honor the life and legacy of the trailblazing Black investigative journalist and activist,  Ida B. Wells.

The Ida B. Wells Symposium will feature remarks by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik and notable voices from national media. The day will culminate in the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of Wells by artist Dana King, a former network news anchor. 

Wells, who was born in Mississippi three years before Emancipation, became a crusading journalist who fearlessly investigated lynchings and advocated for equality in suffrage, housing, criminal justice, and education. Her legacy of truth-telling inspires journalists to this day.

“There is a tradition in this country of the advocacy journalist, and within that long history Ida B. Wells stands as an icon,” said Jelani Cobb, Dean of Columbia Journalism School and Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism. “Her work not only remains relevant today, but actively inspires the next generation to follow in her footsteps.”

The Symposium will host several panels discussing the current struggle for racial and gender equality, and how Ida B. Wells impacted both of these areas through her tenacious journalism.

Panelists include Dean Jelani Cobb; Kimberlé Crenshaw; June Cross, Fred W. Friendly Professor of Media and Society; Dan Duster; Paula Giddings; Dorothy Butler Gilliam, '61 M.S.; Errin Haines; Nikole Hannah-Jones; Dana King; Soledad O'Brien; Marquita Pool-Eckert, '69 M.S.; Joy-Ann Reid; and Jacqueline Woodson.

“Ida’s legacy is a powerful one and continues to resonate,” said Dawn Kissi, ’05 M.S, ‘23, MBA. “As a Journalism School alumna, I and other alums of color see tremendous value in not only recognizing her work and legacy, but commemorating it with the work of Dana King.” 

The bust, a gift by Mark Mason and Carolyn Mason, will be placed inside the main lobby of Pulitzer Hall.

This Symposium is made possible by the generosity of Betty Baye,  ʼ80 M.S., Wayne Dawkins, ʼ80 M.S., Cheryl Devall, ʼ82 M.S., Karen Gray Houston, ʼ73 M.S., Michelle Johnson, ʼ82 M.S., David Peterkin, ʼ82 M.S., Randall Pinkston, Gayle Pollard-Terry, ʼ73 M.S., Janelle Richards, ʼ10 M.S., Reginald Stuart, ʼ71 M.S., and Linda Wright-Moore, ʼ73 M.S.

About Columbia Journalism School

For 112 years, the Columbia Journalism School has been preparing journalists in programs that stress academic rigor, ethics, journalistic inquiry and professional practice. Founded with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer, the school opened in 1912 and offers Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees, as well as a Master of Science in Data Journalism, a joint Master of Science degree in Computer Science and Journalism, The Knight-Bagehot Fellowship in Economics and Business Journalism and a Doctor of Philosophy in Communications. It is home to the Columbia Journalism Review, and several world-class research centers, including the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, The Tow Center for Digital Journalism, The Ira A. Lipman Center for Journalism and Civil and Human Rights, The Simon and June Li Center for Global Journalism, the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. The school administers many of the leading journalism awards, including the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, the Maria Moors Cabot Prize, the John Chancellor Award, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism, the Dart Awards for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award, the Mike Berger Awards and the WERT Prize for Women Business Journalists.

For more about the Symposium, its featured speakers and registration information, visit this webpage.

For press inquiries, please contact Sarah M. Lally, Communications Manager, at [email protected]