Truth-Telling: Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells

"Frances, A Temporizer"

"Frances, A Temporizer"

Frances Willard's comments at the WCTU's convention in 1894 drew scathing criticism from the editors of the Cleveland Gazette, the city's black newspaper. In the piece below, the editors accused Willard of trying to appease white Southerners in her statements about lynching. They also questioned Willard's account of the WCTU's policy toward its black members. Willard said that the WCTU allowed Southern chapters to be segregated, but what that really meant, they argued, was that it condoned the "drawing of a color line."

Their argument was prescient: only two years later, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) that racial segregation was constitutional, as long as the separate facilities were of equal quality. That decision laid the legal and rhetorical foundation for decades of Jim Crow segregation.

This type of criticism from the black press made it more difficult for Willard to claim the credentials of an abolitionist and a "friend of the colored people," as she had cast herself throughout the conflict.

Back to Timeline

This page has paths:

This page references: