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Ida B. Wells was a Powerhouse
Ida B. Wells: Let the Truth Be Told by Walter Dean Myers is one of our new favorite books, both because Ida B. Wells was an absolute powerhouse of a woman and also because it helped my children place all sorts of other people and events in historical context.
Ida was born enslaved to enslaved parents in 1862, and she and her parents experienced freedom with the Emancipation Proclamation. Since we have been reading a lot of books about Juneteenth recently, I was able to tie that into the time period.
She was also friends with both Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, the two main players in my oldest’s favorite book, Friends for Freedom.
When she stood up against school segregation, she recruited the support of Jane Addams, the founder of Hull House and basically is to the Social Work field what Florence Nightengale is to Nursing (and – shameless plug – one of the people featured in the July 2023 – June 2024 Radical Agenda Planner for Kids).
I especially appreciated how the author mentioned how, even when working to advance the cause of Women’s Suffrage, she was still discriminated against and asked to not stand with the white women. It’s an important detail because it can serve as a warning. Historically, Black women have been leaders fighting for important advances in women’s movements (suffrage, family planning, etc) but would not get the credit for their efforts.
It is 2023, and we give credit where credit is due. Thank you, Walter Dean Myers, for highlighting Ida B. Wells.
Ms Wells was not handed an easy life. She lost both parents and a young brother as a teenager, and yet fought over and over to take care of her family and keep pursuing her calling of social justice work. Not only did she become a writer, she because the publisher of a newspaper.
This book about Ida B. Wells highlights the importance of tenacity and the courage of conviction. Even when her presence was not appreciated, or when she was busy raising her own family, she insisted on staying and doing what was right and good. This is a great book to talk about the importance of being brave and never giving up.
The boys and I had such a great conversation about this book. I loved watching them recognize all the ways this book fit in with other books we’ve read, and they could fit it in context with the Civil War, Juneteenth, and Women’s Suffrage. My oldest recognized the name Susan B. Anthony, and my younger one remembered that Frederick Douglass fought for Black men to have the right to vote. It amazes me every time how close the Civil War was to Women’s Suffrage, and yet white women have barely been able to vote for 100 years, and Black women for less than that.
Both boys, ages 8 and 5, were riveted and enjoyed this book.