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Library Journal Review
Ida B. Wells, the civil rights and antilynching crusader all but forgotten for most of the 20th century, has received a great deal of scholarly interest over the past 30 years. Bay (history, Rutgers Univ.; The White Image in the Black Mind: African-American Ideas about White People, 1830-1925) adds to this scholarship by examining Wells in the context of her social and political milieu as an African American woman in a predominantly white, male-dominated society. The sexism Wells faced within the Civil Rights Movement and the added domestic responsibilities she faced as a woman held her back from claiming her rightful place at the top of the Civil Rights hierarchy. Bay relies heavily on Wells's own autobiography (published as Crusade for Justice in 1970) and a diary that Wells kept in Memphis from 1885 to 1887 (published in book form in 1995), as well as contemporary magazine and newspaper articles. With almost 30 pages of notes, this book is well suited to academic libraries, while its efficient length and accessible style make it good for public libraries as well. Recommended.-Jason Martin, Univ. of Central Florida, Orlando (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal Review
Adult/High School-Bay presents a scholarly record of the life of a brilliant political activist and early feminist, from her beginnings as the daughter of newly freed slaves in Mississippi during Reconstruction to her primary candidacy in 1930 for the Illinois Senate. The author recounts Wells's childhood in Holly Springs and the drastic changes that occurred when, at age 16, her parents died and she became the caregiver for two younger sisters. In 1883, forcefully ejected from a train several times for refusing to leave the (first class) ladies car for the (second class) smoking car, Wells sued the railroad, charging assault and discrimination, and won. The ruling was overturned two years later by the Tennessee Supreme Court. Frustrated with Jim Crow, critical of the black leadership, and horrified by lynchings and the accompanying myth of black men's hypersexuality, Wells gave up teaching and turned her energy and talent to journalism. Her association with women's groups and black organizations such as the NAACP were often fraught with controversy, and she was often at odds with black leaders. The author quotes extensively from Wells's autobiography, diaries, and articles, insightfully interpreting and occasionally correcting her facts. Black-and-white photos are included. Students interested in post-Civil War history and women's studies will find a wealth of information in this exhaustively researched biography.-Jackie Gropman, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library System, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Ida B. Wells was a sociopolitical force throughout her life, which spanned a period of tumultuous racial inequities. Her determination to right wrongs against blacks was legendary. Against the grain of society and expected gender roles, Wells is shown to be a strong-willed, intelligent, and resourceful woman who addressed the enormous problem of lynching in the US. Bay (Rutgers) provides a comprehensive history of Wells from her upbringing as the child of slaves to the journalistic power circles of England, providing in-depth research to track Wells's achievements and hardships. Besides recounting some of Wells's better-known accomplishments, such as her refusal to relinquish her train seat and her role in the development of the NAACP, Bay researched other areas of Wells-Barnett's contributions in the early 20th century, showing her as fearless in her quest to address lynching in the US. Wells's work was a labor of considerable sacrifice as she pursued support at home and abroad. Bay successfully illuminates Ida B. Wells as one of the notable movers and shakers of her time. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. M. W. Pilkinton Mississippi State University