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.

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