Frances Willard and the "Race Problem"
"The Race Problem: Miss Willard on the Political Puzzle of the South"In 1890, Frances Willard traveled to Atlanta for the WCTU's annual convention. The union had chosen to hold its meeting there as part of its strategy to recruit more Southern women and become a nationally powerful force. While there, Willard gave the interview featured on this page. It was published in the New York Voice, a pro-prohibition newspaper.
The interview is long, but we invite you to take the time to read it in full. It became central to the conflict between Frances Willard and Ida B. Wells. When the interview was published, Wells was working as a journalist and teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. She read Willard's words and did not forget them. Four years later, in the midst of her anti-lynching campaign, Wells had the interview republished along with criticism of both Willard's statements and her tone.
To read the annotations to the text, hover your mouse over the rectangular borders that appear on the images below.