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Race in America: History Matters with Michelle Duster

Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of Ida B. Wells joins Washington Post Live on Tuesday, Feb. 1 (Video: The Washington Post)

Ida B. Wells was a suffragist, civil rights activist and pioneering journalist who chronicled the lynching of Black Americans in her reporting. Michelle Duster, author of “Ida B. the Queen,” discusses her great-grandmother as we kick off our Black History Month series about the role Black women have played in the country’s development.

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“For me, one of the things I wanted to do… is to humanize her… It was important to relate to her as a human being and not a super hero… I always sought ways to figure out how did she… keep moving forward in the midst of fear.” – Michelle Duster (Video: Washington Post Live)
“To speak up. That’s to me her biggest legacy is that where she saw injustice and inequality, that she decided not to be silent about it.” – Michelle Duster (Video: Washington Post Live)
“In this country we tend to think of the Civil Rights Movement as the 1960s… We have this idea that there was slavery, slavery ended and then there was Martin Luther King. So basically, 100 years of history have been glossed over.” – Michelle Duster (Video: Washington Post Live)

Michelle Duster

Provided by representatives with Michelle Duster.

Michelle Duster is an author, professor, public historian, and champion of racial and gender equity. She has written, edited, or contributed to sixteen books. Her most recent Ida B. the Queen: The Extraordinary Life and Legacy of Ida B. Wells was released on January 26, 2021 by Atria/One Signal Publishers (division of Simon & Schuster). She co-wrote the popular children’s history book, Tate and His Historic Dream; co-edited Impact: Personal Portraits of Activism; Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth Through Change; Michelle Obama’s Impact on African American Women and Girls; and edited two books that include the writings of her paternal great-grandmother, Ida B. Wells. She has written articles for Ms. Magazine, TIME, Essence, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, People, Glamour, Daily Beast, and the North Star. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, WTTW, CBS & CW as well as numerous radio shows. Her advocacy has led to street names, monuments, historical markers, murals, statues, and other public history projects that highlight women and African Americans, including Wells. She has written two children’s picture books. Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth will be published in January 2022. You Dared will be published by mid-2023 (Henry Holt: division of Macmillan)