OVERRIDE

To Tell the Truth Freely

The Life of Ida B. Wells

Mia Bay

Hill and Wang

Born to slaves in 1862, Ida B. Wells became a fearless antilynching crusader, women’s rights advocate, and journalist. Wells’s refusal to accept any compromise on racial inequality caused her to be labeled a “dangerous radical” in her day but made her a model for later civil rights activists as well as a powerful witness to the troubled racial politics of her era. Though she eventually helped found the NAACP in 1910, she would not remain a member for long, as she rejected not only Booker T. Washington’s accommodationism but also the moderating influence of white reformers within the early NAACP. In the richly illustrated To Tell the Truth Freely, the historian Mia Bay vividly captures Wells’s legacy and life, from her childhood in Mississippi to her early career in late-nineteenth-century Memphis and her later life in Progressive-era Chicago.

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Introduction

 

"If Iola Were a Man"

 

As the Nineteenth Century came to a close, a young African American woman named Ida B. Wells was acclaimed "the most widely known woman of her race in the world."1 Born a slave in Civil War-ravaged Mississippi,Wells achieved freedom with emancipation, and international renown in the 1890s, when she rose to fame as a journalist, speaker, and civil rights activist who led an international crusade against lynching. She was just thirty years old when she first began her campaign to end the brutal white-on-black mob violence
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REVIEWS

Praise for To Tell the Truth Freely

“Mia Bay . . . brings dimension to history’s minimalist portrait of [Ida B. Wells] in her insightful new biography . . . Bay’s book gives credit where it’s long overdue.” —Sandy Nelson, The Santa Fe New Mexican
 
“In the richly illustrated To Tell the Truth Freely, the historian Mia Bay vividly captures Wells’s legacy and life, from her childhood in Mississippi to her early career in late nineteenth-century Memphis and her later life in Progressive-era Chicago.” —The African American Book Review
 
“This well-researched book . . . should be useful to both mass communication scholars and a general audience, thanks to Bay’s fluid writing style, attention to details, and facts.” —Jinx Coleman Broussard, Journalism History
 
“In this remarkable book, Mia Bay understands Ida B. Wells in full—as thinker, writer, crusader, politician, and woman of the world. Finally, we have a biography worthy of one of the bravest and most influential activists in U.S. history.” —Michael Kazin, author of A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan
 
“Ida B. Wells is one of America’s most important yet relatively unknown historical figures. Absorbing and insightful, To Tell the Truth Freely deftly chronicles the way in which her extraordinary life and career altered the evolution of race and democracy in late nineteenth- and early twentieth century America.” —Peniel E. Joseph, author of Waiting ’Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America
 
“Mia Bay’s biography of Ida B. Wells is as sharp and sassy as the woman herself. The vigilance and bravado of this dynamic black woman crusader shines through on every page. Bay’s triumphant tapestry reveals the life and times of an unsung heroine woven into battles for African American freedom.” —Catherine Clinton, author of Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
 
“At last—an eloquent, concise, yet richly detailed account of Ida B. Wells. Beautifully crafted, this book restores Wells to her rightful place in American political history by telling her story with verve and grace.” —Barbara D. Savage, author of Your Spirits Walk Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion
 
“Superb . . . Having been squeezed out of a role in national civil and women’s rights organizations, Wells lost a prominent place in the historical record. It took several generations before her relentless and often discomforting agitation for social justice received the appreciation it deserved, as scholars over the last twenty years gradually reestablished her place in history. Mia Bay’s lucid biography contributes enormously to this project.” —Andrew Feffer, History News Network

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Mia Bay

  • Mia Bay is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and the associate director of Rutgers’s Center for Race and Ethnicity. This is her second book.
  • Mia Bay
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Available Formats and Book Details

To Tell the Truth Freely

The Life of Ida B. Wells

Mia Bay

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Hill and Wang

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