Humankind documentary: 'Ida B. Wells' Battle to Uncover the Truth'

Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells
R. Gates | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

A documentary from the Humankind series: “Ida B. Wells’ Battle to Uncover the Truth.”

Born into slavery, Ida B. Wells became a ground-breaking investigative reporter in the 1890s exposing the domestic terrorism practiced by white supremacists. This Humankind special tells the true story of a fearless journalist, whose life was threatened while she revealed the truth.

Wells began her activist career by refusing to leave a first-class ladies' car on a Memphis railway and rose to lead the nation's first campaign against lynching. Wells co-owned and wrote for the Memphis Free Speech newspaper. Her reporting covered incidents of racial segregation and inequality.

She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP.

Among those you will hear in this Humankind program:

  • Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times correspondent who has led the 1619 Project, which marks the start of enslavement in the Americas.

  • David Blight, Yale historian and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Frederick Douglass, who was an associate of Ida B. Wells.

  • Paula Giddings, who authored the principal biography of Wells, titled “Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching.”

  • Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which dedicated the first nationwide memorial to victims of lynching, in 2018.

Written and produced by David Freudberg in association with WGBH/Boston. For more, go to

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