It’s hard to overstate the courage of Ida B. Wells. She was one of the loudest – and loneliest – voices against the barbaric practice of lynching throughout the American South during Reconstruction. As one of the only writers to undertake a systematic study of the practice, she uncovered grotesque facts (the practice of lynch mobs keeping body parts of the lynched as “souvenirs”), common lies (the most common incitement to a lynching being the allegation of impropriety or sexual aggression against a white woman), and what she saw as the root cause: the expansion of black sufferage, black economic power, and black social mobility.
Anti-lynching certainly wasn’t Ida Wells’ only cause, but it was the one for which she gained the most notoriety, both in the United States and in Europe. It was also one of the darkest chapters in American history, one in which her voice was often the only voice speaking for the thousands of innocent men and women who were tortured and killed. Her writing is urgent, impassioned, and absolutely necessary.
- Phil Rollins, Learning Technologies Developer