Journalist and activist Ida B. Wells took great risks to expose the horrors of racism and fight injustice through her investigative writings.
Wells’ life and groundbreaking work are the subject of a new WTTW Chicago Stories documentary airing Friday.
Stacy Robinson, the film’s writer and producer, said although Wells is garnering recent attention through a downtown Chicago street renaming, a Pulitzer Prize special citation and other recognitions, her efforts may have not been fully appreciated in the immediate decades after her death in 1931.
“I think some of it has to do with perhaps how outspoken she was in her own day,” Robinson said. “That she was written out of history and possibly because of the lack of interest or emphasis that we have on women in history and especially African American women in history.”
Born into slavery in Mississippi just a few months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Wells documented the brutality of lynchings in the South before moving to Chicago after continued threats and the destruction of her Memphis printing press by a racist mob.
She went on to help form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), advocate for women’s rights and pave her way as one of the nation’s most important Civil Rights crusaders.
The hourlong film “Ida B. Wells: A Chicago Stories Special” will air Friday, May 21 at 8 p.m. on WTTW.