Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells: The Daring Life of a Crusading Journalist

Overview

In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. For her family and others like them, it was a time of renewed faith in America's promise of "freedom and justice for all." Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in this promise, young Ida never turned away from the challenges she faced. She insisted on holding her family together after the death of her parents. She defied convention and went to court when a railroad ...
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Overview

In 1863, when Ida B. Wells was not yet two years old, the Emancipation Proclamation freed her from the bond of slavery. For her family and others like them, it was a time of renewed faith in America's promise of "freedom and justice for all." Blessed with a strong will, an eager mind, and a deep belief in this promise, young Ida never turned away from the challenges she faced. She insisted on holding her family together after the death of her parents. She defied convention and went to court when a railroad company infringed on her rights. And she used her position as a journalist to speak out about injustice. But Ida's greatest challenge arose after one of her friends was lynched. How could one headstrong young woman help free America from the "shadow of lawlessness" that loomed over the country?

Author Philip Dray tells the inspirational story of Ida B. Wells, from her birth into a slave family in Mississippi and her early encounters with racism to her lifelong commitment to end injustice. Award-winning illustrator Stephen Alcorn's remarkable illustrations recreate the tensions that threatened to upend a nation a century ago while paying tribute to a courageous American hero.

"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them."—Ida B. Wells
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Dray, a Pulitzer finalist for At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, brings his expertise to a younger audience with this eloquent biography of anti-lynching crusader and journalist Ida B. Wells. A narrative peppered with anecdotes guides readers through defining moments of Wells's life, from her 1884 lawsuit against a railroad company whose Jim Crow policies prevented her, a black woman, from riding in the first-class compartment, to her growing career as a newspaper columnist, to the 1892 lynching of her close friend. Alcorn's (Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters) striking, symbol-infused hand-colored prints on creamy vellum get star billing. A large trim size accommodates the stylized illustrations, soaring vignettes in muted hues that portray a statuesque and self-assured Wells. Fluid lines swirl or jut across spreads, establishing a brisk visual pace. In one scene, a hand extended from a fancy sleeve labeled "Whites Only" pushes down an African-American man wearing overalls. In another, Wells the writer drifts from an ink bottle like a genie from a lamp, the spectral-shaped black ink forming her dress. Author notes, a timeline and more enhance this age-appropriate introduction to difficult issues and the woman who educated the world about them. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Karen Leggett
Ida B. Wells was strong, determined and outspoken, and she came by it all naturally. Her father lost his job as a carpenter when he failed to vote as directed by his white boss in Holly Springs, Mississippi not long after the Civil War. By the time she was sixteen, Wells' parents had died of yellow fever; Wells raised six younger siblings and became a teacher. She fought Jim Crow laws that tried to hold her back at every step. She began to write about discrimination and injustice, first for a church publication then for a local newspaper and finally for a respected black newspaper called the New York Age, always signing her columns and letters "Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells." It was while writing his award-winning At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America that Philip Dray knew he wanted to tell Wells' story, struggle by struggle, article by article—especially her fight against lynching. "The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press," Wells would write. The book provides excellent historical background for the stories of lynching and nooses that are even now back in the news. Although Yours for Justice is a large format picture book, the stylized, art deco illustrations by Stephen Alcorn should broaden its appeal to a wider age range. Readers who are reluctant or struggling will meet quite a role model in perseverance. The back pages include photos, resources, a timeline, and additional background on Wells's role in founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the history of lynching in America. Reviewer: Karen Leggett
School Library Journal

Gr 1-5- An excellent picture-book biography. Although Wells is well known for her efforts to end the horrific practice of lynching, here defined as "execution outside the law," the text maintains a child-appropriate approach. Wells's anger and frustration are expressed but the crimes are not described. Background notes go into more detail and outline the journalist's advocacy work for equal rights for blacks and women. Alcorn's outstanding illustrations give readers a sense of the woman. She is depicted as well dressed and elegant, an image borne out by the photographs at the end of the book. Flat, watercolor-tinted drawings of expressionistic scenes sometimes float, sometimes sprawl, across the pages in a boldly flowing manner. The perspective is constantly shifting, even among the elements on a single page. While most of the human figures are rounded, white people who are abusing blacks are shown as caricatured shapes full of sharp lines and angles. Sometimes a large white hand pushes down a black person, again emphasizing a lack of humanity. A noose is incorporated into one illustration but there are no pictures of people being hanged. Alcorn's inventive, imaginative artwork softens the violence without minimizing it. Through words and pictures, the book conveys the story of a woman who exhibited admirable fortitude and bravery.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

Kirkus Reviews
The author of an adult study of the history of lynching addresses a younger audience in this stirring tribute to an African-American journalist who, more than any other single figure, is associated with bringing the despicable practice to an end. Born a slave, Wells grew up to be a dedicated reformer who took on a number of social injustices in the course of a long career. Dray retraces the biographical high spots, then closes with a photo-enhanced look at her later achievements and a capsule history of lynching. Adding strong notes of reverence to the narrative, Alcorn's big cubist paintings center on Wells, who is often seen floating gracefully, surrounded by people with downcast eyes and tilted heads, fluttering pages of print and scales or other symbols. Capped by a well-chosen list of additional resources at several levels, this handsomely packaged introduction to one of the most important progenitors of the Civil Rights Movement is just the ticket for young readers not yet ready to tackle the Fradins' definitive profile. (Picture book/biography. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561454174
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2008
  • Pages: 44
  • Sales rank: 381,489
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.09 (w) x 12.01 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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