Best-selling author to give second annual Ida B. Wells Lecture

Best-selling author and famed Smith College Africana studies professor, Paula J. Giddings, will give the second annual Ida B. Wells Lecture on November 8 in Mary Baldwin’s Francis Auditorium at 7 p.m. 

The talk, titled “Ida B Wells: Race, Gender, and the Vote,” will be drawn from research Giddings conducted while writing her 2009 biography, A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching

The tome was named a Washington Post and Chicago Tribune book of the year, and won numerous awards — including the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography, the Association of Black Women Historians’ Letitia Woods Brown Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.

Best-selling author and famed Smith College africana studies professor Paula J. Giddings will give the second annual Ida B. Wells Lecture on November 8 in Mary Baldwin’s Francis Auditorium at 7 p.m. The talk will be livestreamed, for those that can’t attend in-person.

The name and values of celebrated Black civil rights activist, suffragist, and journalist Ida B. Wells have been woven into Mary Baldwin’s campus culture for decades. 

Wells was born enslaved in Mississippi in 1862 and won international acclaim using journalism and activism to battle Jim Crow era injustices and sexism. MBU’s eponymic Living Learning Community honors her legacy by helping African American students excel academically while exploring culture, identity, leadership, and civic engagement as the foundation for their university experience. 

That legacy was expanded with the launch of the inaugural Ida B. Wells Lecture in 2021. The annual fall event brings prominent national experts to campus to discuss topics of race and social justice within the context of current events.

“I’m thrilled to be able to bring such a prestigious scholarly author and lecturer to Mary Baldwin to speak and engage with our students,” said MBU Chief Diversity Officer Andrea Cornett-Scott. This is “a personal honor, and an incredible cultural opportunity for both our students and the Staunton-Augusta community.”

“I am only a mouthpiece through which to tell the story of lynching, and I have told it so often that I know it by heart. I do not have to embellish; it makes its own way.”

Ida B. Wells

Giddings currently serves as Smith College’s Elizabeth A. Woodson Professor Emerita of Africana Studies. She has taught at Duke, Princeton, Spelman College, and Rutgers; holds multiple honorary doctoral degrees; and is a Guggenheim Foundation fellow. 

Giddings served as an editor and Paris bureau chief for Encore American, and Worldwide News. Her journalism has appeared in major outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, International Herald Tribune, and The Nation. 

The second annual Ida B. Wells lecture is cosponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the United Black Student Alliance, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, the Mary Baldwin College for Women, the Spencer Center for Civic and Global Engagement, the Grafton Library, and various departments within the new Gold College of Arts and Sciences.

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