Ida B. Wells
|Ida B. Wells|
|Born||Ida Bell Wells
July 16, 1862
Holly Springs, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||March 25, 1931
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Education||Freedman's School, Rust College, Fisk University|
|Occupation||Civil rights and women's rights activist, teacher, local paper editor|
|Spouse(s)||Ferdinand L. Barnett|
|Parent(s)||James Wells and Elizabeth "Izzy Bell" Warrenton|
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931), more commonly known as Ida B. Wells, was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist  Georgist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Born into slavery in Mississippi, as an adult she documented lynching in the United States in the 1890s, showing that it was often used as a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by blacks, as was usually claimed by whites. She was active in women's rights and the women's suffrage movement, establishing several notable women's organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician and traveled internationally on lecture tours.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early career
- 3 Investigative journalism
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Europe
- 6 Willard controversy
- 7 Southern Horrors and The Red Record
- 8 Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois
- 9 Later public career
- 10 Legacy and honors
- 11 Representation in other media
- 12 Influence on black feminist activism
- 13 See also
- 14 Selected publications
- 15 References
- 16 Bibliography
- 17 Further reading
- 18 External links
Early life and education
Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1862, several months before United States President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in Confederate-held territory. Her enslaved parents were James Wells and Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Warrenton) Wells, both held by Spires Bolling, an architect. She was one of eight children. The family resided at Bolling's house, now named the Bolling-Gatewood House, where Lizzie Wells was a cook.
Ida's father was a master at carpentry; after the Civil War he was a "race man" who worked for the advancement of blacks. He was very interested in politics and became a member of the Loyal League. He attended Shaw University in Holly Springs (now Rust College), but he dropped out to help his family. He also attended public speeches and campaigned for local black candidates but never ran for office himself. A religious woman, Elizabeth Wells was very strict with her children. Both of Ida's parents were active in the Republican Party during the Reconstruction.
Ida attended Shaw like her father, but she was expelled for rebellious behavior after confronting the college president. While visiting her grandmother in the Mississippi Valley in 1878, Ida, then aged 16, received word that Holly Springs had suffered a yellow fever epidemic. Both of her parents and her infant brother (Stanley) died during that event, leaving her and her five other siblings orphaned.
Following the funerals of her parents and brother, friends and relatives decided that the six remaining Wells children should be split up and sent to various foster homes. Wells resisted this solution. To keep her younger siblings together as a family, she found work as a teacher in a black elementary school. Her paternal grandmother, Peggy Wells, along with other friends and relatives, stayed with her siblings and cared for them during the week while Wells was away teaching. Without this help, she would have not been able to keep her siblings together. Wells resented that in the segregated school system, white teachers were paid $80 a month and she was paid only $30 a month. This discrimination made her more interested in the politics of race and improving the education of blacks.
In 1883, Wells took three of her younger siblings to Memphis, Tennessee, to live with her aunt and to be closer to other family members. She also learned that she could earn higher wages there as a teacher than in Mississippi. Soon after moving, she was hired in Woodstock for the Shelby County school system. During her summer vacations she attended summer sessions at Fisk University, a historically black college in Nashville. She also attended LeMoyne. She held strong political opinions and provoked many people with her views on women's rights. At 24, she wrote, "I will not begin at this late day by doing what my soul abhors; sugaring men, weak deceitful creatures, with flattery to retain them as escorts or to gratify a revenge."
On May 4, 1884, a train conductor with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad ordered Wells to give up her seat in the first-class ladies car and move to the smoking car, which was already crowded with other passengers. The year before, the Supreme Court had ruled against the federal Civil Rights Act of 1875 (which had banned racial discrimination in public accommodations). This verdict supported railroad companies that chose to racially segregate their passengers.
Wells refused to give up her seat. The conductor and two men dragged Wells out of the car. When she returned to Memphis, she hired an African-American attorney to sue the railroad. Wells gained publicity in Memphis when she wrote a newspaper article for The Living Way, a black church weekly, about her treatment on the train. When her lawyer was paid off by the railroad, she hired a white attorney. She won her case on December 24, 1884, when the local circuit court granted her a $500 award.
The railroad company appealed to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court's ruling in 1887. It concluded, "We think it is evident that the purpose of the defendant in error was to harass with a view to this suit, and that her persistence was not in good faith to obtain a comfortable seat for the short ride." Wells was ordered to pay court costs. Wells' reaction to the higher court's decision illustrates her strong convictions on civil rights and religious faith, as she responded with the following statement; "I felt so disappointed because I had hoped such great things from my suit for my people...O God, is there no...justice in this land for us?"
While teaching elementary school, Wells was offered an editorial position for the Evening Star in Washington, DC. She also wrote weekly articles for The Living Way weekly newspaper under the pen name "Iola," gaining a reputation for writing about the race issue. In 1889, she became co-owner and editor of Free Speech and Headlight, an anti-segregation newspaper that was started by the Reverend Taylor Nightingale and was based at the Beale Street Baptist Church in Memphis. It published articles about racial injustice. In 1891, Wells was dismissed from her teaching post by the Memphis Board of Education due to the various articles she had written which critiqued the conditions in the colored schools of the region; Wells was devastated but undaunted, and henceforth concentrated all her energy on writing articles for the The Living Way and the Free Speech and Headlight.
In 1889 Thomas Moss, a friend of Wells, opened the People's Grocery in the "Curve," a black neighborhood just outside the Memphis city limits. It did well and competed with a white-owned grocery store across the street. While Wells was out of town in Natchez, Mississippi, a white mob invaded her friends' store. During the altercation, three white men were shot and injured. Moss and two other black men, named McDowell and Stewart, were arrested and jailed pending trial. A large white lynch mob stormed the jail and killed the three men.
After the lynching of her friends, Wells wrote in Free Speech and Headlight, urging blacks to leave Memphis altogether:
There is, therefore, only one thing left to do; save our money and leave a town which will neither protect our lives and property, nor give us a fair trial in the courts, but takes us out and murders us in cold blood when accused by white persons.
Wells emphasized the public spectacle of the lynching. More than 6,000 blacks did leave Memphis; others organized boycotts of white-owned businesses. After being threatened with violence, she bought a pistol. She later wrote, "They had made me an exile and threatened my life for hinting at the truth."
The murder of her friends drove Wells to research and document lynchings and their causes. She began investigative journalism by looking at the charges given for the murders, which officially started her anti-lynching campaign. She spoke on the issue at various black women's clubs, and raised more than $500 to investigate lynchings and publish her results. Wells found that blacks were lynched for such social control reasons as failing to pay debts, not appearing to give way to whites, competing with whites economically, and being drunk in public. She found little basis for the frequent claim that blacks were lynched because they had sexually abused or attacked white women, which was the alibi that partly accounted for white America's collective acceptance or silence on lynching, as well as its acceptance by many in the educated African-American community; before the lynching of her three friends, Wells had held in this belief, and concluded that "although lynching was…contrary to law and order…it was the terrible crime of rape [that] led to the lynching; [and] that perhaps…the mob was justified in taking his [the rapist] life". She published her findings in a pamphlet entitled "Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases." She wrote an article that suggested that, unlike the myth that white women were sexually at risk of attacks by black men, most liaisons between black men and white women were consensual. After the editorial was published, Wells left Memphis for a short trip to New England, to cover another story for the newspaper, not knowing that she would not return to Memphis for many decades. In publishing the editorial, Wells had enraged the southern men of the city, who made no attempt to hide their intentions toward the author of the editorial, who they thought to be was a man. Their responses in two leading white newspapers, The Daily Commercial and The Evening Scimitar were brimming with hatred; "the fact that a black scoundrel is allowed to live and utter such loathsome…calumnies is a volume of evidence as to the wonderful patience of southern whites. But we have had enough of it". On May 27, 1892, while she was away in Philadelphia, a mob destroyed the offices of the Free Speech and Headlight in retaliation for her controversial articles.
Other studies have supported Wells' findings of lynching as a form of community control and analyzed variables that affect lynching. Beck and Tolnay's influential 1990 study found that economics played a major role, with the rate of lynchings higher when marginal whites were under threat. They concluded the following:
"...[L]ynchings were more frequent in years when the "constant dollar" price of cotton was declining and inflationary pressure was increasing. Relative size of the black population was also positively related to lynching. We conclude that mob violence against southern blacks responded to economic conditions affecting the financial fortunes of southern whites—especially marginal white farmers."
According to author Oliver C. Cox in an article titled Lynching and the Status Quo, the definition of lynching is "an act of homicidal aggression committed by one people against another through mob action…for the purpose of suppressing…[or] subjugating them further". Wells spoke to groups in New York City, where her audiences included many leading African-American women. On October 5, 1892, a testimonial dinner held at Lyric Hall, organized by political activists and clubwomen, Victoria Earle Matthews and Maritcha Remond Lyons, raised significant funds for Wells' anti-lynching campaign. These activities also led to the founding of the Women's Loyal Union of New York and Brooklyn.
Because of the threats to her life, Wells left Memphis and moved to Chicago. She continued to wage her anti-lynching campaign and to write columns attacking Southern injustices. Her articles were published in The New York Age newspaper. She continued to investigate lynching incidents and the ostensible causes in the cases.
Together with Frederick Douglass and other black leaders, she organized a black boycott of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, for its failure to collaborate with the black community on exhibits to represent African-American life. Wells, Douglass, Irvine Garland Penn, and Ferdinand Lee Barnett wrote sections of a pamphlet to be distributed there: "Reasons Why the Colored American Is Not in the World's Columbian Exposition." It detailed the progress of blacks since their arrival in America and also exposed the basis of Southern lynchings. Wells later reported to Albion W. Tourgée that copies of the pamphlet had been distributed to more than 20,000 people at the fair. After the World's Fair in Chicago, Wells decided to stay in the city instead of returning to New York. That year she started work with the Chicago Conservator, the oldest African-American newspaper in the city.
Also in 1893, Wells contemplated a libel suit against two black Memphis attorneys. She turned to Tourgée, who had trained and practiced as a lawyer and judge, for possible free legal help. Deeply in debt, Tourgée could not afford to help but asked his friend Ferdinand Barnett for his aid. Born in Alabama, Barnett had become the editor of the Chicago Conservator in 1878. He was an assistant state attorney for 14 years. Barnett accepted the pro bono job.
Wells kept track of her life through diaries; in them, she admits a few personal things. Before she was married, Wells admitted that she would only date men in whom she had "little romantic interest," because she did not want romance to be the center of the relationship. She wanted it to be more about how she and her partner interacted mentally rather than physically. Wells also admitted to personal flaws, acknowledging that she was very quick to criticize and use harsh words towards someone. Because she logged all of her purchases, her diaries also revealed that she bought items which she really couldn't afford.
The couple had four children: Charles, Herman, Ida, and Alfreda. In her autobiography, A Divided Duty, Wells described the difficulty she had splitting her time between her family and her work. She continued to work after the birth of her first child, traveling and bringing the infant Charles with her. Although she tried to balance her world, she could not be as active in her work. Susan B. Anthony said she seemed "distracted". After having her second child, Wells stepped out of her touring and public life for a time, as she could no longer balance her job with her family.
Wells took two tours to Europe in her campaign for justice, the first in 1893 and the second in 1894. In 1893, Wells went to Great Britain at the invitation of Catherine Impey, a British Quaker. An opponent of imperialism and proponent of racial equality, Impey wanted to ensure that the British public learned about the problem of lynching in the US. Wells rallied a moral crusade among the British. Wells accompanied her speeches with a photograph of a white mob and grinning white children posing near a hanged body; her talks created a sensation but some in the audiences remained doubtful. Wells intended to raise money and expose the US lynching violence, but received so little that she had difficulty covering her travel expenses.
In 1894 before leaving the US for her second visit to Great Britain, Wells called on William Penn Nixon, the editor of Daily Inter-Ocean. This Chicago paper was the local Republican Party organ and competitor to the Democratic Chicago Tribune. The Daily Inter-Ocean was the only paper in the U.S. that persistently denounced lynching. After she told Nixon about her planned tour, he asked her to write for the newspaper while in England. She was the first African-American woman to be a paid correspondent for a mainstream white newspaper. (Tourgée had been writing a column for the same paper.)
Her article "In Pembroke Chapel" recounted the mental journey that an English minister had shared with her. C. F. Aked had invited Wells to speak. He told her he had found it difficult to accept the lawlessness revealed in her earlier written accounts, but he had traveled to the US for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. While there, he read in local papers about the Miller lynching in Bardwell, Kentucky, and realized that Wells' accounts were accurate.
Wells was highly effective in speaking to European audiences, who were shocked to learn about the rate of violence against blacks in the U.S. Wells' two tours to Europe helped gain support for her cause. She called for the formation of groups to formally protest the lynchings. Wells helped catalyze anti-lynching groups in Europe, which tried to press the U.S. government to guarantee the safety of blacks in the South.
By the late 19th century, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), a predominantly white women's organization, had branches in every state and a membership of more than 200,000. Part of the progressive movement, it attracted some women to political activity who considered the suffrage movement as too radical. Other women were active in both movements. Frances Willard was president of the Temperance Union from 1879 to 1898.
As it happened Willard was also touring England on behalf of temperance when Wells was conducting her anti-lynching campaign there. As Wells described the horrors of American lynchings, British liberals were incredulous that American white women such as Willard, who had been heralded in the English press as the "Uncrowned Queen of American Democracy," would turn a blind eye to such violence. Wells accused Willard of being silent on the issue of lynchings, and of making racial comments that added to mob violence. Wells referred to an interview of Willard during her tour of the American South, in which she had blamed black behavior for the defeat of temperance legislation. "The colored race multiplies like the locusts of Egypt," she had said, and "the grog shop is its center of power... The safety of women, of childhood, of the home is menaced in a thousand localities."
In response, Willard and Lady Somerset attempted to use their influence to keep Wells' comments at lectures out of the press. Wells responded by revealing that, despite Willard's having abolitionist forebears and black friends, she would not grant admission of black women to the WCTU's segregated southern branches.
The dispute between Wells and Willard in England intensified the campaign against Wells in the American press. Though The New York Times had reported on Wells' visit to Britain without much commentary, the paper published an opinion piece in August 1894 that suggested that black men were prone to rape and described Wells as a "slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress" who was looking for more "income" than "outcome." Such attacks in the US press swayed many Britons to support Wells' cause. "It is idle for men to say that the conditions which Miss Wells describes do not exist," a British editor wrote. "Whites of America may not think so; British Christianity does and all the scurrility of the American press won't alter the facts."
Wells' British tour ultimately led to the formation of the British Anti-Lynching Committee, which included prominent members such as the Duke of Argyll, the Archbishop of Canterbury, members of Parliament, and the editors of The Manchester Guardian.
Southern Horrors and The Red Record
In 1892 Wells published a pamphlet titled Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. Having examined many accounts of lynching based on the alleged "rape of white women," she concluded that Southerners cried rape as an excuse to hide their real reasons for lynchings: black economic progress, which threatened white Southerners with competition, and white ideas of enforcing black second-class status in the society. Black economic progress was a contemporary issue in the South, and in many states whites worked to suppress black progress. In this period at the turn of the century, southern states starting with Mississippi in 1890, passed laws and/or new constitutions to disenfranchise most blacks and many poor whites through use of poll taxes, literacy tests and other devices.
Wells-Barnett recommended that blacks use arms to defend against lynching:
The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.
The Red Record (1895) is a 100-page pamphlet describing lynching in the United States since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, while also describing blacks' struggles since the civil war. The Red Record explored the alarmingly high rates of lynching in the United States (which was at a peak at the end of the 19th century). She believed that during Reconstruction, Americans outside the South did not realize the growing rate of violence against blacks in the South. She believed that during slavery, the white man owned blacks body and soul. He suppressed the soul, but preserved the body for its economic labor value. Wells noted that, since slavery time, "ten thousand Negroes have been killed in cold blood, [through lynching] without the formality of judicial trial and legal execution."
Frederick Douglass wrote an article noting three eras of "Southern barbarism" and the excuses or rationalizations that whites claimed in each period. Wells-Barnett explored these in detail.
- During slavery time, Wells noted that whites worked to "repress and stamp out alleged 'race riots.'" or suspected slave rebellions. Once the Civil War ended, whites believed and feared that the blacks, who were in the majority in many areas, were planning retaliatory attacks against them. Whites panicked and resisted them forcefully.
- During the Reconstruction Era whites lynched blacks as part of an effort to suppress black political activity and re-establish white supremacy after the war. They feared "Negro Domination" through voting and taking office, and wanted to regain control of state governments. Wells-Barnett encouraged blacks in high-risk areas to move away to protect their families.
- She noted that whites frequently claimed that black men had "to be killed to avenge their assaults upon women." Wells-Barnett explains that during that period, whites assumed that any relationship between a white woman and a black man was a result of rape. Given the power between the groups, it continued to be much more common for white men to take sexual advantage of poor black women. In this article she states: "Nobody in this section of the country believes the old threadbare lie that Negro men rape white women."
Wells-Barnett gave 14 pages of statistics related to lynching cases committed from 1892 to 1895; she also included pages of graphic accounts detailing specific lynchings. She notes that she drew her data from the articles of white correspondents, white press bureaus, and white newspapers. The Red Record was a huge pamphlet in size, and had far-reaching influence in the debate about lynching. Generally southern states and white juries refused to indict any perpetrators for lynching, although they were frequently known and sometimes shown in the photographs being made more frequently of such events.
Despite Wells-Barnett's attempt to garner support among white Americans against lynching, she believed that her campaign could not overturn the economic interests whites had in using lynching as an instrument to maintain Southern order and discourage Black prosperity, specifically Black men's economic ventures. Ultimately, Wells-Barnett concluded that reason and compassion would never be sufficient to gain legislative change by Southern whites. Wells-Barnett came to conclude that perhaps armed resistance was the Negro's only defense against lynching. Meanwhile, she extended her efforts to gain support of such powerful white nations as Britain to shame and sanction the racist practices of America.
Wells and W. E. B. Du Bois
Wells often encountered and sometimes collaborated with scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois. Both used their journalistic writing to condemn lynching. They also competed for attention and differed in accounts for why Wells' name was excluded from the original list of founders of the NAACP. In his autobiography, Du Bois implied that Wells chose not to be included. But, in her autobiography, Wells complained that Du Bois deliberately excluded her from the list.
Later public career
Wells received much support from other social activists and her fellow club women. In his response to her article in the Free Speech, Frederick Douglass praised her work: "You have done your people and mine a service...What a revelation of existing conditions your writing has been for me." Wells took her anti-lynching campaign to Europe with the help of many supporters. Trying to organize African-American groups across the United States, in 1896, Wells founded the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs and the National Afro-American Council.
In 1898, Wells was struggling to manage her busy family life and career, but she was still a fierce campaigner in the anti-lynching circle. That year the National Association of Colored Women's club met that year in Chicago but did not invite Wells to take part. When she confronted the president of the club, Mary Church Terrell, she was told that the women of Chicago had said that, if Wells were to take part in the club, they would no longer aid the association. Wells later learned that Terrell's own competitiveness played a part in her exclusion.
After traveling through the British Isles and the United States lecturing about lynching in the United States, Wells settled in Chicago. She worked to improve conditions for its rapidly growing African-American population. People were starting to move out of the South to northern industrial cities in the Great Migration. Competition for jobs and housing caused a rise in social tensions because of the rapid changes at a period of increased immigration from Europe. Black migrants had to compete for jobs and housing with millions of immigrants from rural eastern and southern Europe.
Wells worked on urban reform during the last thirty years of her life in Chicago. She also raised her family. After her retirement, Wells began writing her autobiography, Crusade for Justice (1928). She never finished it; she died mid-sentence of uremia (kidney failure) in Chicago on March 25, 1931, at the age of 68. She was buried in the Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago, before the cemetery was forced by additional city legislature to be racially integrated.
Legacy and honors
Since Wells' death and with the rise of the mid-century civil rights activism, interest in her life and legacy has grown.
In 1941, the Public Works Administration (PWA) built a Chicago Housing Authority public housing project in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the south side in Chicago; it was named the Ida B. Wells Homes in her honor. The buildings were demolished in August 2011 due to changing demographics and ideas about such housing.
Representation in other media
In 1995, the play In Pursuit of Justice: A One-Woman Play About Ida B. Wells, written by Wendy Jones and starring Janice Jenkins, was produced. It is drawn from historical incidents and speeches from Ida B. Wells-Barnett's autobiography, and features fictional letters to a friend. It won four awards from the AUDELCO (Audience Development Committee Inc.), an organization that honors black theatre.
- Her life is the subject of Constant Star (2006), a musical drama by Tazewell Thompson. It has been widely performed. The play explores her as "a seminal figure in Post-Reconstruction America."
Influence on black feminist activism
In her book, Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics, Joy James characterized the work of black militant feminists such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett as a kind of "limbo" dance. This analogy is an embodied characterization of political work and brings movement into the realm of the political and the performative. Often, militant political activist work is not positioned in relation to an embodied practice such as dance, but if one looks closely at all of the feats of "bending backward" that activists such as Wells-Barnett had to engage in, there would be no doubt that these women were the political acrobats of their time. Joy James describes her theorization of "limbo" in the following passage:
Limbos are ideal spaces for witnessing and generating movements to address the inadequacies of linear liberation theories that offer little resistance to the complexity of dominance that manifests over time in multiple, intersecting layers and sites. In the limbos of social movements, the past, present, and future coexist and overlap. Time is nonlinear. Space and community are expansive. In their progressive forward movement, contemporary black feminisms often bend backward toward historical protofeminist ancestors like abolitionist Maria W. Stewart, Ida B. Wells, and Ella Baker. In so doing these feminisms routinely retrieve from the sidelines of conventional political memory important ancestral leaders for current considerations and political struggles. Political amnesia, the gray area surrounding political agency, partly stems from the erasure of historical figures—particularly those female ancestors who militantly fought as racial and gender outsiders for democracy, only to be marginalized later from 'respectable' political community.
While researching Wells-Barnett's life, this "bending backward" or "limbo" dancing that James theorizes manifests through a larger vision to build a black feminist movement that included black men, white women and white men. Wells-Barnett's anti-lynching campaign superseded the suffragists and racial uplift movements of her time due to her ability to call everyone to the proverbial table and ask for their accountability.
- African-American Civil Rights Movement (1865-1895)
- African-American Civil Rights Movement (1896–1954)
- African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954–68)
- Ida B. Wells-Barnett House
- List of civil rights leaders
- List of suffragists and suffragettes
- List of women's rights activists
- Timeline of the African-American Civil Rights Movement
- Timeline of women's suffrage
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- "Protests Against Maysville Lynching" (1899, December 9). The Washington Post, (1877-1954), p. 4. Retrieved December 23, 2008, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers, The Washington Post (1877 - 1992) database (Document ID: 190136962).
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- Works by Ida B. Wells at Project Gutenberg
- The Memphis Diary of Ida B. Wells, memoirs, travel notes and selected articles (Beacon Press, 1995)
- Ida B. Wells, "Lynch Law" (1893), History Is a Weapon Website
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- Davidson, James West. 'They say': Ida B. Wells and the Reconstruction of Race. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-516021-5
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|Library resources about
Ida B. Wells
|By Ida B. Wells|
- Media related to Ida B. Wells at Wikimedia Commons
- Works related to Ida B. Wells at Wikisource
- Works by Ida B. Wells at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Ida B. Wells at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Booknotes interview with Linda McMurry on To Keep the Waters Troubled: The Life of Ida B. Wells, September 26, 1999.