A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching
By Paula J. Giddings
(Harper Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780060797362, 832pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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Heralded as a landmark achievement upon publication, Ida: A Sword Among Lions is a sweeping narrative about a country and a crusader embroiled in the struggle against lynching—a practice that imperiled not only the lives of black men and women, but also a nation based on law and riven by race.
At the center of the national drama is Ida B. Wells (1862-1931). Born to slaves in Mississippi, Wells began her activist career by refusing to leave a first-class ladies' car on a Memphis railway and rose to lead the nation's first campaign against lynching. For Wells, the key to the rise in violence was embedded in attitudes not only about black men, but also about women and sexuality. Her independent perspective and percussive personality gained her encomiums as a hero—as well as aspersions on her character and threats of death. Exiled from the South by 1892, Wells subsequently took her campaign across the country and throughout the British Isles before she married and settled in Chicago. There she continued her activism as a journalist, suffragist, and independent candidate in the rough-and-tumble world of the Windy City's politics.
With meticulous research and vivid rendering of her subject, Giddings also provides compelling portraits of twentieth-century progressive luminaries, blacks and whites who worked with Wells during some of the most tumultuous periods in American history. In this groundbreaking work, Paula J. Giddings brings to life the irrepressible personality of Ida B. Wells and gives the visionary reformer her due.
Paula J. Giddings is the Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor in Afro-American Studies at Smith College and the author of When and Where I Enter and In Search of Sisterhood.
“A groundbreaking biography gives this warrior her due.”
A sweeping and timely biographical narrative about Ida B. Wells...a paragon of American history.
“A hearty thumbs-up for this powerful retelling of her life.”
“Paula J. Giddings IDA: A SWORD AMONG LIONS (Amistad) is a worthy biography of the vibrant crusader who led the nation’s first campaign against lynching.”
“Ida B. Wells was an inspired journalist, an uncompromising civil libertarian, and a woman far ahead of her patriarchal times—a ‘difficult’ woman. Paula Giddings’s monumental achievement restores this extraordinary contrarian to her place as one of the grand pace-setters of American social justice and female empowerment.”
-David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-Winning biographer of W.E.B. DuBois
“History at its best—clear, intelligent, moving. Paula Giddings has written a book as priceless as its subject.”
“The best interpretation of black women and race and sex that we have.”
-Women's Review of Books on When and Where I Enter