The California Newsreel distribute a DVD documentary lasting 53 minutes and produced and directed in 1989 by William Greaves about Ida B. Wells-Barnett.

Better known as the woman who refused to give up her seat to a white man in a period where that was custom, Ida is an example of civil rights activist. Although born a slave, she recognised the injustice of her situation and helped start early civil rights, reacting to the seat event by starting to write as a way to protest. She also led anti-lynching crusades.

The California Newsreel website contains a short article about the film that reads:

Though virtually forgotten today, Ida B. Wells-Barnett was a household name in Black America during much of her lifetime (1863-1931) and was considered the equal of her well-known African American contemporaries such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois.

Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice documents the dramatic life and turbulent times of the pioneering African American journalist, activist, suffragist and anti-lynching crusader of the post-Reconstruction period. Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison reads selections from Wells’ memoirs and other writings in this winner of more than 20 film festival awards.

“One had better die fighting against injustice than die like a dog or a rat in a trap.” – Ida B. Wells

She is widely remembered as “A pioneering African-American woman who used journalism to stand up against white supremacy and segregation and who led an anti-lynching crusade in the 1890s”* and celebrates her on what would have been her 153rd birthday on July the 16th, 2015 with a Google Doodle.


Editor’s notes: You can find more about the California Newsreel work at William Greaves is a multi-award-winning filmmaker, more precisely director, producer, actor and writer of documentary works on the African-American experience. His works cover history, biographies, art and culture and social issues. They are of special interest to  African American studies, Women studies, Librarians,Community Groups and Cultural Organisations. They are catalogued and outlined online on his website at William Greaves Productions

In my opinion, William Greaves is the leading Black documentary filmmaker in the United States today.” – William Sloan, The Museum of Modern Art