Ideas in Antiquity--Leadership in the Ancient World: From Telemachus to T'Challa

Week Nine: Outrage, Activism, Idealism, and Modern Leadership

This week we will be analyzing the leadership, as evidence through her writings, of Ida B. Wells (read the link esp. under the headings "Early Life and Education," "Early Career," and "Investigative Journalism"), the journalist and activist who exposed the truth of and hypocrisy behind the laws that enabled the lynchings of African Americans in 1890's.

Session One

Assignment: Read Wells Essay/Pamphlet, Southern Horrors (linked here), and answer the following questions. 
  1. What are Wells’ main arguments against the existing lynching laws?
  2. ​How is her essay structured?
  3. What is her call(s) to action? How are people to address this problem?
  4. How does Wells' leadership approach compare and contrast to that of Lysistrata in Aristophanes' play?
  5. What are her most memorable lines? What makes them memorable?
  6. To what extent does her leadership come across as gendered? If you did not know this essay/pamphlet was written by a woman, could you figure that out from her writing?
  7. What references to the ancient world (either the cultures of Greece and Rome or the Hebrew/Christian Bible)? What is Wells point in making these references?
  8. What three aspects of her writing style would you like to incorporate into your own?

Session Two

Assignment: Read Wells Speech on "The Requisites of True Leadership" (see .pdf here) and answer the following questions.
1. What does Wells believe makes up a true leader?
2. How does her description of a leader compare to the examples we have looked at so far (Telemachus, Neoptolemus, Cyrus, Lysistrata, the women in Plutarch's Virtues of Women)?
3. What can you infer from the speech about what Wells believes is the process by which someone becomes a leader? How does this process compare to our discussions of mentorship, education, and outrage? 

Supplementary reading. Check out Brittney Cooper's dissertation on the leadership of Ida B. Wells (linked here).