Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation

Congressman and civil rights movement hero John Lewis wrote this final article to be published on the day of his funeral.
John Lewis
Grade Level

This text is part of the Teaching the Movement Text Library and aligns with Summary Objective 14.A.

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Text Dependent Questions
  1. Question
    How does Lewis’ essay illustrate his lifelong commitment?
    His essay shows that his last thoughts and actions were dedicated to the movement.
  2. Question
    What did Lewis state about our role in democracies?
    He said, “Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.”
  3. Question
    What was Lewis’ inspiration to get involved in fighting for justice?
    “I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out.”
  4. Question
    What did Lewis say was his inspiration to stay motivated?
    “While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.”
  5. Question
    What did Lewis mean by saying democracy is “an act”?
    “When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something,” he wrote. He encouraged people to work together to build a just society, “the Beloved Community.”
  6. Question
    Why did Lewis feel studying history is important?
    “You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.”
Reveal Answers