John Lewis: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of our Nation Essay Example



John Lewis, a leader with an unrelenting commitment to the Civil Rights Movement, in his essay, “Together, You can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”(July 30, 2020), uses unifying diction to make a final call for action. He prompts Americans to collectively implement positive change within a nation that shall no longer encompass aggressions and cruelties. Lewis supports his assertions by developing rhetorical choices within the ultimate advice to say his final goodbye and evoke thought within his audience. The author provides his audience with the incentive to take action on this earth, of which he has played such an influential role. Also, Lewis does not only write this because these are his final days. He needs to bid farewell with carefully chosen words that will guide Americans to ponder over, but also because of the recent events that have transpired. Citizens find themselves at the center of a whirlwind of emotions as the news of killings of Black Americans spreads across the nation. Lewis finds himself inspired to comment on the aftermath of the tragedies, not only because he now draws his final breaths but also because Americans now look for leadership and guidance in the face of the call for action. The author's purpose is to instill urgency into the younger generations' minds so that he evokes the need to take action and enhances the desire for visible change from their efforts. The author writes in a solemn tone that tends to be conquered by a heartening tone for the generations of people of America who will soon endure some suffering for the loss of another leader who provides sensibility and direction.   

John Lewis is gifted in bringing people together during times of despair and turning it into a pivotal moment for unifying the people to create positive change through his use of imagery. The power of persuasion is a hand that grasps onto each American who stands atop shaky grounds in these times of distress; these same grounds now start to solidify and become steady as a result of the mending qualities Lewis’s imagery has. He endears himself to his audience by offering several concessions that prove he, unfortunately, can relate to what they are going through. His shoulders bear the weight of a burdensome past because “[i]n those days, fear constrained [them] like an imaginary prison.” He revives the desire for unification by telling them they are not alone in experiencing the unforeseen events. Thus, his audience is of many varying races, but they are unified under common sentiments of discontent, grief, and potential willingness. This was a period that bore “...troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason.” These are the notions that Americans again inquire about “...were the bars.” They are encircled by steel bars meant to contain, meant to maintain, and thus, meant to keep from change. Lewis calls for action, forcing his audience to imagine the scenario and understand that these histories are unchangeable, but that it is up to them to let this be the final call for change. Lewis is concise in his words that depict what he wishes historians' writings to entail when writing about this generation. His confidence in the people speaks volumes to the audience as he urges the people to “...let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last….” This reminds the audience that their aspirations are possible. With peace and resilience lending a helping hand to pull them up from the crumbling earth of segregation, they have the power to create new grounds of peace to be walked upon. Lewis’s visually descriptive language paints images within the audience’s minds to provoke inner-thought and the need for action. The impact his words have on the audience is intensified and persuades that we require the type of change that Lewis tells of, instilling positivity and unity into society's roots. Adhering to his words urges Americans to uproot the seeds of societal neglect that have been buried by brutality and discrimination and plant on fresh soil, the seeds of change that will blossom into newfound unity and positivity.  

Recalling the hardships of former times and addressing how they are renewed because of their significance to the present day allows Lewis to draw connections between historical times and the present-day. His calm tone tames the overwhelming amount of emotions rising within individuals as he asserts, “[i]n my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way.” Although nonviolence is often assumed to be used because of not wanting to put any lives in harm's way, it is also a sensible and strategic method to not be perceived as instigators but as people with a cause. He has dedicated most of his life to advocating for civil rights, but even the lifetime of a single man was not enough to bring about this change that has been sought out for so long. Lewis calls upon the past to reference the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who spoke so sincerely in his I Have a Dream Speech, he remarks, “[n]ow it is your turn to let freedom ring.” Lewis informs his audience how these past problems prevail through modern times and become relevant due to similar situations; hence the Black Lives Matter movement. George Floyd, a forty-six-year-old man, killed during an arrest as an officer knelt on his neck for an extended amount of time, was a victim of this brutality Lewis depicts. Martin Luther King’s time surfaces the name Emmet Till. Many names emerge with time, up through the present-day that brings about names like George Floyd proves how the past and the present all amount to this overarching idea justice has been too long delayed from black people. Referencing history contributes to drawing out powerful sentiments and convincing Americans to follow Lewis’s same way of thinking. Lewis uses these connections between the past and the present to bring about realizations of what is considered morally right and wrong. Nevertheless, how are we to know what is right and what is wrong? This question often lingers in the thoughts of each generation: gen z and gen y. The answer becomes apparent through his insight into an everlasting relationship between past and present that proves a prolonged need for change and a certain sense of urgency.

Lewis speaks to Americans directly in his writing; he repeatedly addresses the people with the term “you,” allowing him to keep from generalizing his notions and sugarcoating the sentiments ignited within. This call to action provides the audience with guidance on what they should do at the present time since they are amid misfortune. Lewis empowers Americans by assuring them that “...you used your power to make a difference in our society.” Anaphora of this word inflames capability within individuals, and once this feeling commences, they will unify with the same sense of empowerment and ability to make positive change. Lewis declares, “[w]hen you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something.” Using the word “you,” Lewis extends his world of past truths and hopes for the hereafter by making each audience member feel included in this ambition. He urges his audience “...to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.” Often, readers are less engaged when the author only speaks in the first-person point of view in which the audience will understand that the author is closely related to the story's action. When Lewis uses a second-person point of view, he makes the generations feel like they are a part of the effort while being drawn into the essay. Lewis creates a sense of focused attention here and forces his audience to consider the topic at hand and ponder their involvement with the situation. We are each a match held near a bundle of other matches by a band of expectations and standards. John Lewis’s assertions depict the significance of unification and nonviolence. This explosive encases chaos that could spark at any moment in time, but if the final call for action succeeds, peace will subdue the eruption. 

In his essay, “Together, You can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”(July 30, 2020), John Lewis uses effective rhetorical choices to provide Americans with direction for what needs to happen after he departs this lifetime. In the face of obstacles and struggles, America will flourish once it has come into a state of peace. This is not some state of serenity that is temporarily patched over and filling in the cracks of discontent, but this is a newly formed solid earth, laden with unity and peace. This is what Lewis strives for the people to desire and persist in the face of hardship to receive visible change. This change is what will change the image of history. The once never-changing and redundant history of black people will see a glint of hope for a better-unified and more positive future. All our fates are tied together, like a bundle of matches: one catches fire, and the rest will quickly follow after. Each fire consisted of its own unique sense of discontent and need for change, but all yield the power to make a change, and that is precisely what Lewis was trying to convey to this generation.