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The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  111 ratings  ·  15 reviews
The broadest and most comprehensive collection of writings available by an early civil and women’s rights pioneer

Seventy-one years before Rosa Parks’s courageous act of resistance, police dragged a young black journalist named Ida B. Wells off a train for refusing to give up her seat. The experience shaped Wells’s career, and—when hate crimes touched her life personally—sh
Paperback, 581 pages
Published November 27th 2014 by Penguin Classics (first published November 25th 2014)
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April Helms
It took me all summer to read this dense book, but it is worth the effort. This is a collection of work by famed journalist and writer Ida B. Wells-Barnett. Most of the writing deals with her essays, columns and pamphlets protesting the lynch laws prevalent during her time, and her writing was an eye-opener for me. I know I’m not the only one but my “knowledge” (if it could be called that) of lynching was somewhat limited. I thought, and always had the impression, that lynching meant a spur-of-t ...more
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A textbook for comprehensive activism and a vivid snapshot of the reality of lynchings in the Reconstruction South. The civil rights activists of the mid-20th century owe a lot to Wells. Plus, her exploration of white manhood seems to me a precursor of current gender psychology literature. As do her ideas on the cult of womanhood. Wells is a must-read for students of African American history, gender studies, and the history of activism more broadly.

Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Important piece looking back at the history of lynching and all of the work she did to bring that information to the public. She did a lot of necessary work. Its just very very emotionally heavy when it comes to reading the accounts of lynching in gruesome detail. I had to pause many times and I didn't read the entirety. I will definitely come back to this ...more
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
These words need to be read. I am fortunate to have read them.
Daniel L.
Ida B. Wells Shone the Light on the Evils of Lynching

There’s a notable group of writers who exposed hideous truths and awoke the conscience of millions. Upton Sinclair exposed the meatpacking industry. Jacob Riis publicized how “the other half lives.” Nelly Bly laid bare the bleakness of mental institutions. And a Black journalist named Ida B. Wells showed the world the horrors of lynching in America.

Born a slave in 1862, Ida B. Wells gained freedom with the ending of the Civil War. However, th
Ian Wraga
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wells went to Moody Bible College and got radicalized and went on crystalize her legacy by savagely eviscerating white southerner christians in the press. Staple for anyone wanting to live out their faith or be a part of movement building in America.
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Ida B. Wells was one of the most passionate, intelligent, and courageous social activists in American history. The racism she fought tooth and nail against in the post-Civil War era -- let's call it instead the post-Emancipation Proclamation era, to emphasize the irony* of it all -- this racism was a horrific, blood-lusting beast that raged primarily through the South. Wells was often the only voice that the oppressed African-Americans had, because the North, including the U.S. government, turne ...more
Tony Britt
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
If any indication of a good book includes the additional exploration it inspires, count this book among those for me. Admittedly, this is the first book in my 15-month journey reading about Black America that I didn't read word-for-word; I read some & scanned some, in part b/c there is considerable repetition. That's b/c it is a collection of essays, speeches & letters, not a single narrative. And frankly, getting through the vivid descriptions of lynching & torture would require more morbid cur ...more
Laura Hoffman Brauman
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes the best way to learn about history is to spend time with source materials. Wells was an extraordinary journalist that didn't back down from telling the truth, regardless of her personal risk. She is passionate, articulate, and focused on fact. She takes the arguments against her account and breaks them down one by one, never getting pulled into personal attacks against those that were attacking her. She knew the facts were behind her and she stayed focused on them (even when it had to ...more
Finished 223 out of 581 pages +.
At once, this is fascinating, repulsive and repetitive. Ida B. Wells wrote for many publications, her own newspaper, pamphlets, books, speeches. As important and essential as her reporting is, in this form it is redundant. However, the last 200+ pages are her “Twentieth- Century Journalism and Letters.” That addresses murders, lynching and race riots in New Orleans, a murder trial in Arkansas and reporting on the 1927 Flood on the Mississippi, and subsequent slav
Atif Taj
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The original works of anti lynching crusader Ida Wells is special. Her activism through writing against lynching, racism, and riots display the harrowing realities of a society that needed to be read to be believed.

Special articles: The Jim Crow Car, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All it’s Phases, Lynch Law in America, The Behring Case in Equity, A Red Record, Mob Rule in New Orleans: Robert Charles and His Fight to the Death, The St Louis Massacre: The Greatest Outrage of the Century, The Arka
LeeAnn Heringer
This was my reading for Black History Month and I tried to shut up and listen because it’s not my history. But I am gobsmacked that there has ever been, maybe still needs to be, anti-lynching activists. Lynching seems indefensible.

The heart of the book is the fourth chapter, particular the section entitled Red Record. If the book gets a little repetitive or long for you, I recommend making sure you read that part.
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Challenging, interesting read.
Written by a woman born a slave in 1862, began to raise her siblings at 16 when her parents died, she started and contributed to newspapers throughout the reconstruction era. Especially focused on lynching and her anti-lynching crusade through the early 1920's.
Insightful and difficult.
catherine ♡
The Red Record and Southern Horrors stook out to me the most, but from beginning to end it's easy to see how Wells was probably the most fearless leader of Black political thought there ever was in U.S. history. ...more
Michael Blackmore
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
It's gets a bit repetitive because of it is a series of her writings roughly on the same topic over years and she does recycle a bit of her material - but that doesn't diminish the impact and importance of what she was writing about. An important figure in the history of civil rights who deserves to be read even now. ...more
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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

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