The Story of Ida B. Wells Commonlit Answers

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  • 8th Grade
  • Lexile: 940

Source: The Story of Ida B. Wells by Shannon Moreau

Assessment Answers

Which of the following statements best describes a central idea of the text?Ida B. Wells faced discrimination and, spurred by tragedy, spoke out against it.
How does the train scene contribute to the author’s explanation of Ida B. Wells’ lifetime?The scene on the train provides an example of the daily injustice of segregation in transportation, which, according to the text, was just starting at this time in Wells’ life.
PART A: What does the term “exodus” most closely mean as used in paragraph 20?Mass movement or immigration
PART B: Which of the following quotes best supports the answer to Part A?“Many other black citizens were packing up and leaving Memphis”

Although this text is non-fiction, much of it is told like a story. What is the author’s most likely purpose for writing the text in this way?

The author likely chose to present this non-fiction text in a story-like manner for several reasons:

1. To engage the reader: By structuring the text like a narrative, the author creates a more engaging and relatable experience for the reader. We follow Ida B. Wells on her journey, experiencing her emotions, challenges, and triumphs alongside her. This approach makes the historical information more accessible and impactful.

2. To illustrate the impact of history on individuals: By presenting real-life historical events through a personal lens, the author shows how these events affect individuals directly. This personalizes history and makes it more relevant to the reader’s own life.

3. To highlight Ida B. Wells’ character and motivations: Using a narrative allows the author to showcase Ida B. Wells’ personality, courage, and determination in a vivid way. Readers can connect with her struggles and admire her resilience.

4. To make the information more memorable: Stories are often easier to remember than dry facts. By presenting the information in a narrative format, the author increases the chances that readers will retain the key historical details and lessons.

5. To inspire action: By telling Ida B. Wells’ story, the author can inspire readers to take action against injustice in their own lives and communities. The narrative format makes the call to action more powerful and emotionally resonant.

Overall, the author’s choice to write the text like a story serves multiple purposes, enriching the reading experience, deepening understanding, and potentially motivating positive change.

Discussion Answers

In the context of this passage, what are the effects of prejudice? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

In the context of the passage:

  • Individual harm: Prejudice leads to direct harm to individuals, as seen in:
    • Physical violence: The lynchings and murder of Thomas Moss and others highlight the devastating physical consequences of prejudice.
    • Emotional trauma: Ida B. Wells experiences grief, anger, and fear due to discrimination, showcasing the emotional toll prejudice takes.
    • Limited opportunities: The train incident and segregation illustrate how prejudice restricts access to basic rights and opportunities.
  • Societal division: Prejudice creates and reinforces divisions between groups, as seen in:
    • Loss of trust: The exodus from Memphis shows how prejudice erodes trust and creates a hostile environment for certain groups.
    • Economic harm: Businesses lose valuable labor due to the exodus, demonstrating the economic costs of prejudice.
    • Perpetuation of injustice: The lack of legal repercussions for lynchings suggests a system biased against certain groups.

Examples from other sources:

  • History: Segregation in the United States, the Holocaust, and various apartheid systems stand as historical examples of the profound societal damage caused by prejudice.
  • Literature: Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” explores the devastating effects of racial prejudice on individuals and communities.
  • Art: Kara Walker’s sculptures often evoke the painful history of racial prejudice and its lasting impact.

In the context of this passage, how has America changed over time? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

Changes shown in the text:

  • Increased awareness and condemnation of racial injustice: Ida B. Wells’ activism helped raise awareness of lynchings and discrimination, leading to public denouncements and even anti-lynching laws in some states.
  • Greater legal equality: While significant disparities remain, the Civil Rights Movement and subsequent legislation achieved advancements in legal rights for Black Americans, compared to the discriminatory legal environment Ida B. Wells faced.
  • Demographic shifts: The exodus from Memphis reflects the historical reality of Black migration seeking better opportunities, contributing to America’s evolving demographics.

Challenges and complexities:

  • Persistent racial disparities: Despite progress, significant gaps persist in areas like wealth, incarceration, and healthcare access, highlighting the ongoing struggle for racial equity.
  • Systemic bias: The text doesn’t delve deeply into the systemic roots of prejudice, but systemic bias continues to be a complex issue in American society.
  • Incomplete change: Progress is often uneven and contested, and the fight for racial justice remains ongoing.

In the context of this passage, how do people create change? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

From the text:

  • Individual action: Ida B. Wells uses her voice as a journalist to raise awareness and advocate for change. This highlights the power of individual courage and initiative.
  • Collective action: The exodus from Memphis demonstrates the impact of collective action, as many individuals leaving sends a strong message.
  • Raising awareness: Wells’ editorials and public activism bring attention to injustice, creating pressure for change. This underlines the importance of informing and educating the public.
  • Legal challenges: Though unsuccessful in her lawsuit, Wells’ legal action contributes to the broader fight for legal equality.
  • Economic pressure: The loss of labor and economic impact of the exodus puts pressure on businesses and local authorities, showcasing the potential of economic leverage.

Examples from history and literature:

  • Civil Rights Movement: Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent protests, boycotts, and marches used various methods to create change.
  • Women’s suffrage movement: Suffragists employed diverse tactics like petitions, protests, and legal challenges to achieve voting rights.
  • Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance: Gandhi’s approach in India serves as another example of peaceful protest and civil disobedience as tools for change.
  • Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables”: The novel illustrates the potential of societal upheaval and revolution to create change, although with complex consequences.

In the context of this article, what makes a hero? Cite evidence from this text, your own
experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

In the context of the article:

  • Facing adversity: Ida B. Wells overcomes personal tragedy and discrimination, demonstrating courage and resilience in the face of hardship.
  • Fighting for justice: She dedicates her life to challenging injustice and advocating for the rights of others, prioritizing a larger cause over personal comfort.
  • Using their voice: She leverages her skills as a journalist to raise awareness and speak out against oppression, amplifying the voices of the marginalized.
  • Inspiring others: Her actions motivate others to stand up for themselves and challenge the status quo, creating a ripple effect of change.
  • Sacrifice and perseverance: She leaves her home and faces threats to her safety, showing dedication to her cause even at personal cost.

Consider these qualities in the context of other heroes:

  • Nelson Mandela: Faced imprisonment and dedicated his life to dismantling apartheid.
  • Malala Yousafzai: Fought for girls’ education despite threats to her life.
  • Rosa Parks: Defied segregation on a bus, sparking a civil rights movement.
  • Harriet Tubman: Risked her life to lead enslaved people to freedom.


  • Heroism is subjective and can be defined differently across cultures and contexts.
  • Some heroes achieve widespread recognition, while others act quietly within their communities.
  • What defines a hero often involves courage, selflessness, a dedication to a greater good, and an impact on others.

Think about:

  • Who are heroes in your own life? What qualities do they embody?
  • What acts of courage or selflessness have you witnessed or participated in?
  • How can you contribute to making the world a better place, even in small ways?

Other Commonlit Answers

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Avery L. Mitchell
Avery L. Mitchell
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Avery L. Mitchell is a literary enthusiast with a passion for classic literature and its enduring themes. Holding a Master's degree in English Literature from the University of Eldenbridge, Avery has spent over a decade analyzing and writing about timeless literary works. With a keen eye for detail and a deep appreciation for storytelling, Avery brings stories to life with insightful commentary and engaging narratives. When not immersed in books, Avery enjoys hiking, photography, and exploring hidden cafes in her hometown of Asheville, North Carolina.

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