When Ida B. Wells was 22, she was asked by a conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a White man. She refused, and the conductor attempted to forcibly drag her out of her seat. Wells wouldn’t budge. “The moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out.”
The year was 1884 — about 70 years before Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat on an Alabama bus. Wells’ life was full of such moments of courage and principle. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, Wells was a vocal civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist who dedicated her life to fighting inequality. On July 16, Wells’ 153rd birthday, Google honored the “fearless and uncompromising” woman with a Doodle of her typing away on typewriter, a piece of luggage by her side.