Duster’s brightly illustrated book is a laudable amalgam of her great-grandmother’s achievements and indomitable spirit melded with the names and deeds of other activists who have followed in her footsteps, each generally accompanied by simple, vivid color portraits and salutary short essays. These include such well-known political groundbreakers as Stacey Abrams, Maxine Waters and Kamala Harris, mavericks like Bree Newsome and Colin Kaepernick, and celebrated figures like Medgar Evers and Jesse Jackson. Much of the activism and professional action of these notables had roots in the foundations and the fights instigated and supported by Wells in the previous century.
n this lavishly illustrated new biography, writer Duster, who is Wells’s great-granddaughter, explores the activist’s life and work through the lens of her family connection to Wells as well as our collective memory of Wells's impact and the continuing relevance of her approach to antiracist activism. Unlike many biographical treatments, this is not a strict chronological account of Well's life story, but rather a prismatic exploration of an activist’s work, vibrantly and effectively illustrated with archival documents, historical and contemporary photographs, and original illustrations. Weaving autobiography and family stories together with biographical research into Well’s life and work, Duster makes a compelling case for her enduring influence on the American political, social, and social justice landscape ... Engagingly written and beautifully designed, this would be a powerful introduction to Ida B. Wells for any budding historian, journalist, or activist.
Author Michelle Duster, who is Wells’ great-granddaughter, moves beyond traditional biography, weaving Wells’ history with her own memoir. She writes flavorful vignettes of middle-class Black life in Chicago and the milieu that pushed her toward her ancestor’s legacy. She also highlights the way her own existential crisis (not being married by her mid-30s) led her to a deeper kinship with her great-grandmother. The result is an intimate though not sentimental experience of Wells’ story ... Duster considers Wells an early intersectional thinker, pointing out that she was vocal about the importance of Black women’s involvement in suffrage; white women could not be expected to carry the concerns of all women forward, as tensions around race and class frequently hindered suffrage campaigns ... The writing in Ida B. the Queen is straightforward and accessible, aimed at a wide audience. Each chapter features a few information banners, which serve to prime the reader on a particular theme. They also offer further insight into the sociological and political climate of Wells’ time and how it differs from our own.