Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth (Michelle Duster)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth, written by Michelle Duster and illustrated by Laura Freeman, a powerful profile of an incredible activist and writer.

Born into slavery in 1862, Ida began her professional career at only sixteen, when she became a school teacher to support her five younger siblings. Shortly after, she began writing, often on social and political topics that (by the standards of the time) no woman of color had any business writing about. At 22, she sued a major railroad corporation for discrimination, and won (though the ruling was later overturned in appeals). Ida wrote about her experiences with the railroad, with segregated schools, and with the racism and sexism she experienced daily. When three of her friends were lynched by white rival business owners, Ida encouraged boycotts in her newsletters, something that put her life in danger. Yet Ida never stopped – she continued to fight for minority and women’s rights until her death in 1931, leaving a legacy that continues to inspire activists and community organizers to this day.

Stirring. Wells was certainly ahead of her time as a writer and activist, and this look at her life does a wonderful job of exploring both her immense body of work and the motivations and drive behind it. Duster, who offers a truly unique perspective as Wells’s great-granddaughter, tells her ancestor’s story with a great balance of informative facts and emotional pull; the sequence that covers the lynching murders of Wells’s friends in Memphis and the subsequent fallout is particularly affecting. Freeman’s illustrations are compelling, both visually and emotionally, and truly feel like snapshots of Well’s life and times. The length and subject matter are best for older elementary readers, but JJ was certainly captivated by the story and artwork. Overall, this is an impressive and stirring tale of a figure more than deserving of recognition, and we highly recommend it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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