A shocking and powerful account of lynching written by activist, journalist, and former slave Ida B. Wells
In the postbellum American South, lynching was a frightfully common occurrence, perpetrated so frequently that most Southern politicians and leaders turned a blind eye to the practice. This vicious form of vigilante “justice” was in truth a thinly veiled racist justification for murderous violence. In 1892 alone, more than two hundred African Americans were lynched, with alleged offenses ranging from “attempted stock poisoning” to “insulting whites.”
The Red Record tabulates these scenes of brutality in clear, objective statistics, allowing the horrifying facts to speak for themselves. Alongside the tally, author Ida B. Wells describes actual occurrences of lynching, and enumerates the standard rationalizations for these extrajudicial killings, her original intent for the pamphlet to shame and shock the apathetic public—and spark change.
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Ida B. Wells (1862–1931) was an African American journalist, activist, suffragist, and civil rights leader. Born a slave, Wells was freed, along with her parents, by Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. After being orphaned at age fourteen, she put herself through college while caring for her five siblings. Outraged by the prevalence of lynching, Wells wrote several pieces of investigative journalism that exposed the violent hypocrisy running rampant in the American South. Throughout her life, she fought tirelessly for justice and equality for African Americans.