Movie Review: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice (1989) #atozchallenge

This is my entry for “I” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “I” documentaries I’ve reviewed are I Am Big Bird and I Am Not Your Negro.

Title: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
Release Date: 1989
Director:William Greaves
Production Company: William Greaves Productions for the American Experience

Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery during the Civil War.  After emancipation her parents were active in politics during the Reconstruction period before segregation laws were established. When her parents died of yellow fever, Wells became a teacher to support her siblings. A turning point in her life came in 1884 when Wells was asked to leave the ladies car and go to the crowded smoking car on a train.  She was dragged from the train as white women passengers jeered her.

Wells became a journalist and wrote articles about anti-segregation and began investigating lynching.  The stories of lynchings of black men insisted that they were killed in response to their sexual assaults on white women.  Wells uncovered that in reality the victims of lynching owned property that white men desired or ran businesses that competed with white-owned businesses.  Wells received so many death threats in response to her investigative journalism that she relocated to Chicago.  There she continued to remain a journalist and activist against segregation and for women’s suffrage.  In fact she was a gadfly even to prominent African-American activists like Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois

This documentary is a straightforward, low-budget approach that features historic images and commentary from contemporary experts (including a descendant of Ida B. Wells).  The best parts of this production are excerpts from Wells’ writing read by Toni Morrison.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

This documentary was made 30 years ago, but Wells’ life and mission are still not as well-known as they deserve to be.  In the past few years, there have been efforts to bring Wells’ legacy into the broader cultural consciousness.  This movie is a good primer on her life and signifigance.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Look into the project to build and Ida B. Wells Monument in Chicago, and perhaps make a donation.

Source: Kanopy

Rating: ****


2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “If I Were John Carpenter” #AtoZChallenge

This is another song in a run of stories of songs that made me think differently about contemporary music as a teenager.  This track is by Big Audio Dynamite and it’s called:

If I Were John Carpenter

The summer of 1990, I attended a five-week program at Georgetown University for high school juniors.  One day while shopping at a Georgetown record store, I saw a discount compilation at the checkout called Theodore: An Alternative Music Sampler and decided to add it to my purchase.  The artists included Kate Bush, Living Color, The Psychedelic Furs, Public Enemy, and the Indigo Girls, along with others not so well known.  These artists were pretty mainstream at the time and Columbia/Epic was clearly trying to cash in on the growing alternative music trend with a collection of deep cuts, but it was a relevation to my ears.

One track that stands out all these years later is by Big Audio Dynamite.  “If I Were John Carpenter” was a B-side to their more well-known song “James Brown” and doesn’t really sound like anything else the band had done.  It’s a collection of beats, sounds, and samples from old movies. I think my love of electronic and atmospheric music was born when I heard “If I Were John Carpenter.”

And I listened to it a lot.  I had serious insomnia when I was a teenager, and living in the dorm at Georgetown meant sharing a room with a roommate who went to bed every night at a sensible hours.  Since we were high school students we couldn’t leave our rooms after curfew. And so I was left with laying in the dark and listening to songs like “If I Were John Carpenter,” taking in the aural collage and trying to pick apart the pieces that made the track.

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.