cover image Ida B. Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells

Michelle Duster. One Signal, $27 (176p) ISBN 978-1-982129-81-1

Duster (co-editor, Michelle Obama’s Impact on African American Women and Girls) delivers a vibrant and accessible portrait of her great-grandmother Ida B. Wells (1862–1931). Born into slavery in Mississippi and orphaned at age 16, Wells raised her five siblings with the help of her grandmother and found work as a teacher and newspaper reporter in Memphis, Tenn. After three grocery store owners she knew were killed by a white mob, Wells pioneered aspects of investigative journalism in articles and pamphlets documenting lynchings and other forms of violence against Black people. She eventually settled in Chicago, where she cofounded Illinois’s first all-Black suffrage club. (When organizers of a suffrage march in Washington, D.C., asked Black participants to walk in the back of the parade, Wells famously refused to follow orders.) Duster also details Wells’s frustrations with the NAACP, which she cofounded in 1909; notes that the FBI maintained files on Wells and other civil rights leaders; and draws parallels between her great-grandmother’s “legacy of speaking truth to power” and the Black Lives Matter movement. Enriched by family history, striking illustrations, and deep knowledge of the ongoing fight for racial justice, this is a worthy introduction to Wells’s life and legacy. (Jan.)