January 26, 2004 



Telephone:  (310) 674-1776
Website: queenpublicity.com


 January 26, 2004                                                               Contact:  Allison Queen

(310) 674-1776



  Adilah Barnes as Ida B. Wells in  “Iron Jawed Angels”

(Hollywood, Calif.) - In celebration of Black History month (February) award-winning stage and film actor Adilah Barnes will play the powerful and poignant character of Ida B. Wells, in HBO’s television film IRON JAWED ANGELS, premiering February 15, 2004 at 9:30 p.m.

Selected and screened five times in January, 2004 as the  “Official Selection” at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah, IRON JAWED ANGELS recounts for a contemporary audience an important chapter in U.S. history.  In this case, the film chronicles the struggle of suffragists who fought for the passage of the 19th Amendment.  The film shows how these activists broke from the mainstream women’s-rights movement and created a more radical wing, daring to push the boundaries of political protest to secure women’s voting rights in 1920.

Women had no vote, no political clout, no equal rights but, what they lacked under the law they made up for with brains, determination and courage.  Starring Hilary Swank (as Alice Paul), Angelica Houston (as Carrie Chapman Catt) and Frances O’Connor (as Lucy Burns), IRON JAWED ANGELS is an inspirational true story of two women who dared to make a stand for women’s rights, and ended up shaping the future of America. 

Being cast to play the momentous role of Ida B. Wells was more than befitting for  Barnes, who portrays seven historical figures (Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Mary McLeod Bethune, Zora Neale Hurston, Lorraine Hansberry, Angela Davis and Maya Angelou) in her nationally touring one-woman show “I AM THAT I AM: Woman, Black.” 

”From the moment I was called in to audition for the role of Ida B. Wells, I was absolutely thrilled with the possibility of portraying such a significant historical figure.  Not only that, it seemed fitting for Ms. Ida B. Wells to embody me as much so as the other seven historical women I portray in my solo show.  I cannot fully convey the feelings of homage and exhilaration,” states Barnes.

I experienced from the moment I began my research on Ms. Wells to when the cameras cut for the very last time.”
Although the protagonists have different personalities and backgrounds, they are united in their fierce devotion to women’s suffrage.  In a country dominated by chauvinism, this is no easy fight, as the women and their volunteers clash with older, conservative activists and battle public opinion in a tumultuous time of war, not to mention the most powerful men in the country, including President Woodrow Wilson (Bob Gunton).  Along the way, sacrifices are made: Alice gives up a chance for love, and colleague Inez Mulholland (Julia Ormond) gives up her life.

The women are thrown in jail, with an ensuing hunger strike making headline news.  Their resistance to being force-fed earns them the nickname “The Iron Jawed Angels.”  However, it is truly their wills that are made of iron, and their courage inspires a nation and changes it forever.

History of Ida B. Wells :  Ida B. Wells, (1862-1931) was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, months before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  She was the oldest of eight children.  When her parents died in 1880 as a result of a yellow fever plague in Holly Springs, Wells became a teacher in Holly Springs in order to support her younger siblings.  In spite of hardship, Wells was able to complete her studies at Rust College and in 1888 became a teacher in Memphis, Tennessee.

While living in Memphis, Wells became an editor and co-owner of a local black newspaper called “The Free Speech and Headlight.” She wrote her editorials under the pen-name “Iola.”  When a respected black store owner and friend of Wells was lynched in 1892, Wells used her paper to attack the evils of lynching and encouraged the black townsmen of Memphis to go west.

While attending an editor’s convention in New York, Wells received word not to return to Memphis because her life would be in danger. Wells took her cause to England to gain support and earned a reputation as a fiery orator and courageous leader of her people.

Upon returning to the United States, she settled in Chicago and formed the Women’s Era Club, the first civic organization for African-American women. The name was later changed to the Ida B. Wells Club in honor of its founder.

She never forgot her crusade against lynching, and, in 1895 Wells published “A Red Record,” which recorded race lynching in America.

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