Ida B.Wells:Telling the Truth and Sharing the Story

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Ida B.Wells:Telling the Truth and Sharing the Story

Read the Writing of a 'Courageous Black Woman Journalist'

We've seen racial injustice captured online. We've watched uprisings on cell phone video. This sort of democratized reporting highlights the reality of racism and the importance of storytelling.  But before the cell phone, there was Ida B. Wells.

Ida B. Wells, a former teacher turned "most courageous Black woman journalist" (Atlanta Daily World), was a brave and spirited anti-lynching crusader dedicated to documenting the corruption against Black People, Black Women, and other oppressed communities. Through writing and advocacy, Mrs. Wells shined a light on those left in the dark. *Take a look at this digital collection to learn more about the life and times of  Mrs. Ida B. Wells. 

Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases by Ida B. Wells 
In the preface of Southern Horrors, Wells writes, "It is with no pleasure that I have dipped my hands in the corruption here exposed. Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so." Wells is a noted anti-lynching crusader who trailblazed racial violence reporting. Initially produced as a pamphlet, Southern Horrors explores the reality of racism and southern White lynch-mobs. Fearless and straightforward, this read travels through a time and place that, unfortunately, mirrors events of today.  If you're interested in learning more about the history of lynch-mobs and racial violence in the south, this read is for you. 

The Light of Truth: Writing of an Anti-Lynching Crusader by Ida B. Wells (Edited by Mia Bay and Henry Louis Gates,Jr.) 

"The broadest and most comprehensive collection of writings available by an early civil and women's rights pioneer." 

In this collection, you get to explore the life and mind of Ida B. Wells. Edited by Mia Bay and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,The Light of Truth highlights Wells in her own words. Through essays, articles and journal entries, you gain insight into Ida B. Wells the person. Want to learn more?  Check this out. 

Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to Death by Ida B. Wells
In Mob Rule in New Orleans, Wells details the story of Robert Charles. In July 1900, Robert Charles, a Black man, sat on a doorstep, with Leonard Pierce, another Black man. Having a simple conversation, three White officers then approached the two men, unprovoked, suspicious of their presence. Shortly after, the officers attempted an arrest.  Pierce submitted and had a gun placed to his face and Charles "was made the victim of a savage attack by officer Mora who used a billet and then drew a gun" to try to kill him. In self-defense, Charles then drew his gun and shot back at the officer--- both men were wounded. The officer received the worst of the shots and fell to the ground. Charles escaped. Following the incident, inaccurate media reports surfaced, positioning Charles as the perpetrator and as a danger to society.  A week-long lynch mob ensued targeting not only Charles but other Black members of the community. Wells documents the situation in its entirety. To learn more about Robert Charles and the lynch-mobs of New Orleans, check out this read.  

Stony the Road: Reconstruction White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

 "...if emancipation sparked "a new birth of freedom" in Lincoln's America, why was it necessary to march in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s America?"

In Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explores some of the most important eras of the African American experience. Some of these eras include Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Here, he also highlights lynching---an element of racial violence that Ida B. Wells worked hard to dismantle and expose. If you want more context around lynching and why Ida B. Wells made it her platform---this is for you. 

Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings 

Want more of Ida? Check out Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching.  Before becoming an anti-lynching crusader, Wells experienced a few incidents of her own. In her early life, Wells sued the Chesapeake, Ohio, and Southwestern Railway for discrimination after refusing to move to a segregated car. She was physically thrown off and later sought justice. Wells went on to win a settlement but the decision was later overturned. This helped fuel some of her advocacy work. Following the incident, three black businessmen were lynched in Memphis. This inspired Wells' vigorous anti-lynching crusade and spearheaded a great deal of her research and writing. She also co-founded the NAACP and was a passionate figure in the women's suffrage movement. In this work, she centered on African American Women because they were often excluded. She was also a mother, a wife, a sister and a woman of her own. If you need one more reason to read about  Ida B. Wells, here you are. 

Note: Access to our digital collection requires a DC Public Library card.  Don't have a card? Sign up here.