Ida, A Sword Among Lions (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Ida B. Wells was a complex woman, and Ida, A Sword Among Lions by Paula J. Giddings is a complex book that captures the full scope of her challenging and impressive life. It spanned from the Civil War into the “nadir” years of post-Reconstruction racial segregation, through the Progressive Era and World War I, and on to the beginning of the Great Depression.
Wells was raised in the South. In the 1890’s, when her newspaper office was destroyed and she received threats upon her life because of her determined political outspokenness on racial violence issues, she went into exile in the North. She spent the majority of her adulthood working and traveling for social-justice causes. In the last three decades of her life, she was based in Chicago, where she raised her family and became deeply involved in local social welfare and community politics as well as in more sweeping national reforms.
Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, the eldest daughter of former slaves who were ardent believers in education and work as means of uplift for African Americans. Her parents were early supporters of the Freedman’s Aid Society’s Shaw University (later Rust College), which Wells attended. Wells’s happy family life was destroyed in 1878, when a yellow fever epidemic claimed the lives of both her parents. Orphaned at age sixteen, Wells set out on her own, with varying success, to supply financial support for her younger siblings and...
(The entire section is 1734 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 11 (February 1, 2008): 20.
Kirkus Reviews 76, no. 2 (January 15, 2008): 74-75.
Library Journal 133, no. 3 (February 15, 2008): 112.
Ms. 18, no. 1 (Winter, 2008): 74-75.
The New York Times Book Review, May 18, 2008, p. 25.
O, The Oprah Magazine 9, no. 3 (March, 2008): 176.
The Wall Street Journal 251, no. 56 (March 8, 2008): W8.
(The entire section is 37 words.)