Cover image for Ida B. Wells : mother of the civil rights movement
Ida B. Wells : mother of the civil rights movement
Publication Information:
New York : Clarion Books, c2000.
Physical Description:
xii, 178 p. : illustrations.
Reading Level:
1140 L Lexile
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book J 921 WELLS 1 1

On Order



The acclaimed civil rights leader Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) is brought vividly to life in this accessible and well-researched biography. Wells was a founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and she helped black women win the right to vote. But what she is most remembered for is the success of her lifelong crusade against the practice of lynching--called by some "our nation's crime"--in the American South. She fought her battle by writing and publishing countless newspaper articles and by speaking around the world. Her outspokenness put her in grave danger many times over, but she would not be silenced, and today she is credited with ending lynching in the United States. Her story is one of courage and determination in the face of intolerance and injustice. AFTERWORD, BIBLIOGRAPHY, INDEX.

Author Notes

Dennis Brindell Fradin was the author of many books for young readers, including the well-received Samuel Adams: The Father of American Independence , and, with coauthor and wife Judith Bloom Fradin, Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement. Judith Bloom Fradin collaborated with her husband, Dennis Brindell Fradin, on several award-winning books for young readers, including Ida B. Wells: Mother of the Civil Rights Movement and Fight On!: Mary Church Terrell's Battle for Integration . She lives in Evanston, Illinois.

Reviews 3

Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) Few people today are aware of Ida B. Wells's crusade to end lynching, although it was largely thanks to her that the rule of mob justice came to an end in the 1930s. An editor and journalist who wrote forcefully against Jim Crow laws, Wells turned her pen against ""Southern Horrors"" in 1892, when a friend was murdered by a white mob for owning a more successful grocery store than his white competitor. Her research into the real story behind his and many other lynchings led her to write several books on the injustice, to travel across the Atlantic seeking international support from England, and more than once to visit the White House. This well-substantiated biography uses Wells's autobiography, diaries, letters, and editorials to foreground her voice against the times she lived in. The archival black-and-white photographs that illustrate the book include reproductions of some of Wells's publications, portraits of Wells and her family, and some photographs of victims of lynchings, showing their bodies hanging from trees and poles. In a book that easily could have lost its subject in the political issues, the Fradins have remained constant to Wells as a person amidst the history, relating her documented feelings, choices, and motivations without extrapolation. The volume concludes with a bibliography and an index. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-up. Near the end of her life, Ida B. Wells-Barnett was smuggled into a prison to meet with 12 sharecroppers who had been consigned to death row for trying to organize; instead of offering comfort, she tartly told them to stop singing spirituals and start hoping for freedom right here on Earth. In the Fradins' view, that was Wells all over: an outspoken journalist who never softened or compromised and who lashed at blacks and whites with equal fervor at any sign of accommodation to racial inequity. The former slave taught school, ran newspapers, founded or helped found several organizations, including the NAACP, and, 29 years before Rosa Parks was even born, sued a railroad for being forcibly removed from a "whites only" seat. She is chiefly remembered, however, for her long crusade against lynching, sparked by the violent death of a Memphis acquaintance. After reading the Fradins' brutal, explicit accounts of several lynchings and race riots, and seeing the horrifying photos that alternate with formal portraits of Wells' family and prominent associates, it will be easy to understand her rage. After she was ultimately driven by her radicalism to the fringes of organized African American reform, her reputation was long eclipsed, but her confrontational style clearly prefigured that of the black power movement and its militant descendants. Of the several recent biographies of this colorful reformer for young readers, this is by far the most moving and complete. Bibliography. --John Peters

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5 Up-This stellar biography of one of history's most inspiring women offers an excellent overview of Wells's life and contributions. Born a slave, she went on to become a schoolteacher, probation officer, journalist, and activist who fought for the right of black women to vote, helped to create the NAACP, and almost single-handedly halted the horrific practice of lynching. The account of her relationships with famous personalities like Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman provides an accurate sense of her importance during her lifetime. The Fradins make poignant comparisons between their subject's life and those of figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, while showing how Wells paved the way for the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Black-and-white photographs and reproductions enhance the clear, well-written text and give readers a feel for the times in which Wells lived and the obstacles she had to overcome. A bibliography, picture credits, and index are included, but there are no direct source attributions for the many quotations and anecdotes sprinkled liberally throughout. Steve Klots's Ida Wells-Barnett (Chelsea, 1994; o.p.) is similar, but is for a slightly younger audience. The Fradins' compelling book is one that most libraries will want.-Leah J. Sparks, Bowie Public Library, MD (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

A Note from the Authorsp. ix
1 "Let Your Prayers Be Songs of Faith and Hope"p. 1
2 "A Butterfly Schoolgirl"p. 5
3 The Princess of the Pressp. 25
4 The Lynching That Changed Ida's Lifep. 38
5 "I Saw Them Burn the Nigger, Didn't I, Mama?"p. 57
6 Light from the Human Torchp. 69
7 "A Work Which Nobody Else Will Do"p. 81
8 "A Special Call for Special Work"p. 93
9 "Mother, if You Don't Go, Nobody Else Will!"p. 111
10 "Reaching the Boys and Men Who Were Farthest Down and Out"p. 131
11 The Tide of Hatredp. 149
12 "Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty"p. 156
Afterword/The Legacy of Ida B. Wells-Barnettp. 165
Bibliographyp. 169
Picture Creditsp. 171
Indexp. 173