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To keep the waters troubled : the life of Ida B. Wells
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A historian presents the first full-length biography of the black woman crusader for racial justice and women's rights in the period after Reconstruction, detailing her efforts to eliminate lynching and her complicated relationship with the feminists of the time. UP. - (Baker & Taylor)

Describes the life of the Black woman journalist who conducted a lifelong crusade for racial justice and women's rights in the period after Reconstruction - (Baker & Taylor)

In the generation that followed Frederick Douglass, no African American was more prominent, or more outspoken, than Ida B. Wells. Her crusade against lynching in the 1890s made her famous, or notorious, across America, and she was seriously considered as a rival to W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington for race leadership. This book is the first full biography of Wells, a passionate crusader for black people and women--and one who was sometimes torn by her conflicting loyalties to race and gender.
Wells' career began amidst controversy when she sued a Tennessee railroad company for ousting her from a first class car, a legal battle which launched her lifelong committment to journalism and activism. In the 1890s, Wells focused her eloquence on the horrors of lynching, exposing it as a widespread form of racial terrorism. Backing strong words with strong actions, she lectured in the States and abroad, arranged legal representation for black prisoners, hired investigators, founded antilynching leagues, sought recourse from Congress, and more. Wells was an equally forceful advocate for women's rights, but parted ways with feminist allies who would subordinate racial justice to their cause. She perpetually walked a tightrope between being an agitator and behaving like a "lady"--a designation prized by black women too often denigrated and exploited by white men. Using diary entries, letters, and published writings, McMurry illuminates Wells's fiery personality, and the uncompromising approach that sometimes lost her friendships even as it won great victories.
To Keep the Waters Troubled is an unforgettable account of a remarkable woman and the and the times she helped to change. - (Oxford University Press)

Author Biography

Linda O. McMurry is a Professor of History at North Carolina State University, and author of George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol and Recorder of the Black Experience: A Biography of Monroe Nathan Work. She lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. - (Oxford University Press)

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Antithetical to the Victorian image of women during her lifetime (which black women weren't allowed to achieve at any rate), Wells began her rebellious career by suing a railroad company for ousting her from a train when she refused to move from the first-class section. McMurry uses Wells' lively and revealing letters and editorials to portray a spirited woman who fought racial and sexual injustices. Wells crusaded against lynchings, which she identified with attempts to intimidate black men, noting that there were few lynchings before Emancipation. Throughout her career, Wells struggled with balancing the priorities of fighting racism or sexism. She was active in founding the NAACP and worked with a range of black and woman's rights advocates, including W. E. B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, Susan B. Anthony, and Jane Addams. Wells struggled with the contradiction of Victorian mores that fragile women needed the care and protection of men and the reality that black women needed to be strong and independent in the face of virulent racism and sexism. In this illuminating biography, McMurry notes Wells' apt description of herself as the "disturbing element which keeps the waters troubled." ((Reviewed December 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction xiii
Childhood and Early Adulthood
``A happy, light-hearted schoolgirl''
Memphis and the Railroad Suits
``I had hoped such great things''
Social Activities of the Black Elite
``It was a breath of life to me''
Coping with Gender Roles and Spirituality
``An anomaly to myself as well as to others''
Moving from Teaching to Journalism
``An outlet through which to express the real `me'''
Editorship of the Free Speech
``A woman editor and correspondent was a novelty''
The Memphis Lynchings
``Neither character nor standing avails the Negro''
Indictment of Lynching
``The cold-blooded savagery of white devils''
Antilynching Lectures
``The disturbing element which kept the waters troubled''
Taking the Message to the World
``An open door in a stone wall''
The Continued Crusade
``Not myself nor my reputation, but the life of my people''
Balancing Womanhood and Activism
``I was not to be emancipated from my duties''
Organizational Efforts and Problems
``Lest I might become a contender for the position''
Community and Interracial Activities
``To break down the barrier of race prejudice''
New Crusades for Justice
``Do the work that the others refuse''
Prejudice, Protest, and Politics
``When principle and prejudice come into collision''
Defending Freedom until Death
``Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty''
Notes 341(48)
Writings about Ida B. Wells-Barnett 389(3)
Index 392

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