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Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  374 ratings  ·  27 reviews
Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was one of the foremost crusaders against black oppression. This engaging memoir tells of her private life as mother of a growing family as well as her public activities as teacher, lecturer, and journalist in her fight against attitudes and laws oppressing blacks.

"No student of black history should overlook Crusade for Justice."—William M. Tuttle
Paperback, 466 pages
Published July 23rd 1991 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 1970)
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[H]e would say without qualification that he could not imagine a crime so great that it would need be avenged by lynch law in any country in the world; and what was more he did not believe that crime ever was avenged by lynch law without the lowering of the moral tone of the community, and without the introduction of worse evils than were attempted to be suppressed.
Out of the many books I've tasked myself with getting to, this is one of the ones I've spent the most effort on. Not only did
Staci Taylor
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic-school
The title definitely does this book justice! In her last years, Wells wrote this autobiography which I feel many historians should read. It's sad that she is not as well known of an African American hero because she is a woman, but she is just as courageous as Fredrick Douglas and Du Bois. After her parents both died within 24 hours of each other from the 1878 yellow fever epidemic, Wells was the oldest of 6 and had to take care of her younger siblings. She became a teacher and was continuously ...more
Zach Irvin
Apr 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all peoples.
As I started this book, I realized it is actually the first autobiography I have ever read. I'm so glad I started with this one. Ida B. Wells was a powerful, intelligent and dedicated person whose influence on the Civil Rights movement cannot be understated. Direct and matter-of-fact, Mrs. Wells-Barnett's personality is almost palpable on the page. Known for her campaigns against lynchings in the South, she traveled all across America and to Great Britain doing the work.

One thing that struck me
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a really extraordinary book. It is a retrospective account of her campaigns through the south and in the UK to condemn and eliminate lynchings. I, like most people, knew well her life and work, but I had never read her actual words. She was an immensely powerful writer, incredibly gifted and seemed to instinctively understand what we now consider key media principles: keep coming back to your points, use empathy, back up your statements. Best book I've read in a long time.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Black Feminist Theory Text, and a history of one of my own personal heroes. Organizers and leaders can learn from her unrelenting belief in the need to change the detrimental laws and beliefs of the day.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Upon reading this you begin to understand why Ida struggled to keep friends... she was uncomprimising on all levels, but a visionary crusader nonetheless. Her book serves as an excellent insight into the struggle for African- American justice as well as African-American women's rights.
Kathryn Bundy
This memoir is so pertinent to what is happening in the US today. Required reading!
James Blatter
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of the ten most extrodinary women in American history and I'd bet less than 1 in 10 peoples have even heard of her, this is a great story of a great woman
Doris Raines
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This. Is. A. Soficated. Book. I. Really. Adore. What. And. Amazeing. Woman. Thanks. Doris.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really didn't know much about Ida B Wells-Barnett before picking this up. She decides to write her auto-biography after realizing other black stories were not being documented. The book was edited by her daughter and only published years after Ida's death.

Really an amazing woman - she was definitely a crusader against lynching, and traveled internationally even to spread the message. There were numerous defeats yet she managed to have individual successes, too.

Its an autobiography - Ida mentio
Chris Tallant
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
Ida B. Wells not only had a magical style with her words, but also with how she could see through the thin gossamer veil of prejudice and hypocritical politics during the Reconstruction. This book chronicles Mrs. Wells' own life as she wades knee-deep throughout the deception and racial tensions; tensions still felt throughout the world today. Compiled from lectures, diary entries, letters, short stories, and other written articles from her underground newspaper, "Crusade for Justice" is a must ...more
Marina Villeneuve
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The life of a woman born into slavery who shone the light of truth on injustices no matter what lynch-happy mob was trying to run her out of town. Inspiring and well-told, by Ida B. Wells herself. She was truly the... Beyonce-Oprah-Nikole Hannah Jones-Ava of her time, and she did not suffer any fools. My jaw is still dropped thinking of her friendship and work with and recollections of Frederick Douglass. Why is there no HBO movie/series yet of this autobiography? Imagine, her and Frederick runn ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ida's story was already fantastic enough when read by an outside voice. When you get her own voice telling you, with all the power of her character and her will behind the words, it's a thousand times better. It's a shame she didn't get to finish it, but on the other hand, I'm very happy at how much she did manage to get down on paper - particularly considering how much she was doing during her lifetime!
Megan Henderson-Redding
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is a testament to one-woman's determination to bring light to the horrendous policy of lynching African-American's in the United States. She tirelessly travelled the world denouncing inhumane treatment of African-American's, dedicating and endangering her own life to shame the United States and their unjust policies concerning African-Americans before after and during the Red Summer of 1919. This book makes you want to qualify the people that we cast as heroes.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ida B. Wells is seriously the most incredible person I've ever learned about -- brave, witty, and tirelessly devoted to justice. It's frustrating how many of her experiences and insights still ring true today.
Arlene Walker
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Ida B. Wells story leaves me wondering why there hasn't ever been a movie about her life. Very interesting.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio-black, hist-black
I found this autobiography fascinating! Ida B. Wells was born into slavery in 1862 rural Mississippi slavery. She was a contemporary of Frederick Douglas, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and distinguished herself as a journalist. When she couldn’t find traction in the US to stop the practice of lynching, she traveled throughout Scotland and England (where ever she could get audience) to bring attention to the lynchings taking place in the US and the fact that political, religious, and social ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
2017 Reading List - A book that take's place over a character's lifetime.

This autobiography of Ida B. Wells is a great source of knowledge, not only on Ida B. Wells herself, but on political climate of this country during her lifetime. Through her autobiography the Black women's club movement, the suffragist movement, the founding of the NAACP, and countless other Black advocacy organizations is documented. Because Mrs. Wells was present and active in these movements, we get a personal account a
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ida B Wells was an extraordinary woman who maintained her integrity and dignity in spite of a living in a nation corrupted by such blatant racism. I knew of Ida but until I read this book I had no idea she met so many influential people in American and European history. This book was a fantastic read and should be mandatory reading in every U.S. classroom.
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I knew very little about Ida B. Wells. She's now a hero to me. What an organizer. Such a big spirit.
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great read and learning to as well. Great service and a great story about someone I knew nothing about.
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the proof that Ida B Wells-Barnett was one of the ultimate kick-ass women who turned history on its head. She was witty, intelligent, and fearless. She was a ferocious warrior for justice and for the advancement of her people. Because she dedicated so much of her life, her energy, and her love to the cause of advancing, protecting, and fighting for her people, this autobiography reads more like a recounting of her career with tidbits of personal information.

Ida was such a selfless spiri
Tammy Matthews
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The life and work of a fascinating and important American woman in her own words - I’m glad I dove in and learned more about Ida B. Wells. A contemporary of Frederick Douglass, an unerring fighter for justice, a leader who dabbled in legal aid and social work, her contributions were many. You can tell the work exhausted her a bit (she toured the country with a newborn no less!) but she was rightfully proud of her accomplishments and dedicated to the cause of raising awareness about lynching. The ...more
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-not-finish
Read some, but stop a slow read for me
Thoughts to come.
May 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The August 2019 selection for the University of Chicago Alumni and Friends Baltimore Book Club.
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Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931) was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist and, with her husband, newspaper owner Ferdinand L. Barnett, an early leader in the civil rights movement. She documented lynching in the United States, showing how it was often a way to control or punish blacks who competed with whites, often under the guise of rap ...more