So I have finished Paula Giddings’ biography of Ida B. Wells, Ida: A Sword Among Lions. At 659 pages, it is positively succinct in contrast to the Douglass biography. The time it took to read these books made me feel like an inefficient reader, yet I was sad, both times, to finish because I had come to enjoy hanging out with these lively heroes as they took on some of the most important battles of our time.
If you want to better understand American history, African American history, and women’s history, this book is essential reading. Indeed, many of the major figures in African American history and women’s history appear in these pages with depth and vibrant individuality in a way that makes my past conceptions seem like paper dolls. I can’t shake the feeling that to understand some of the painful events of this century, it helps to learn more about the events of the 19th Century. Though I prefer reading to viewing, my next goal is to watch Henry Louis Gates, Jr.’s Reconstruction documentary on PBS.org.
I found this biography insightful on many levels, so I plan to blog a few more times about this book. The insights ranged from the expanding my knowledge of the history and nature of lynching in America to intense awakenings to what it means to push forward on any goal and to overcome setbacks when people are prone to second guess or criticize.
I will try to dig into these thoughts in future blog posts. But my hope is that if you are up to it, you might read Giddings’ biography. It’s not a hard read, but it is long and detailed, so unless you frequently read such works, you might pace yourself so you can absorb all the twists and turns.
I have the impression Wells’ granddaughter Michelle Duster is working on a biography, too. You might check her out at https://mldwrites.com. Also worth following is journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who co-founded an organization in homage of Wells, and her work as a journalist has many echoes to Wells’ legacy: https://nikolehannahjones.com