This semester, I expanded my historical knowledge of social movements in the United States, and I connected these historical movements to the present. I have made these connections through the understanding of rhetoric used in each of the movements we studied, as well as new movements that are developing as we speak.
Every post within this blog adds to the overall understanding that it is the people who impact change. It’s what they say, when they say it, how they say it, and who says it. All of this contributes to the rhetorical situation that allows these movements to gain momentum and ultimately, impact change.
Whether I was exploring the monumental movements of our country such as Abolition of Slavery or Civil Rights, or uncovering what is going on in our nation now with Women’s Rights or our current president, it all ties back to the people.
Signs, speeches, images, and so much more have created these movements and allowed them to take root in our society. The rhetoric of each movement allowed these movements to be successful and also served as templates for new movements. For example, the Women’s Rights Movement began in the 1800s when women wanted the freedom to speak in public and pursue careers of their choice. Now, this movement still exists and we still apply the same rhetorical strategies to make our points, even though the issues have evolved.
Women’s rights is just one example of a movement that has evolved over time using similar rhetorical tactics, but it is a great place to start the exploration into the fascinating field of rhetoric and social movements.
The assignments and the readings that I interacted with this semester allowed me to uncover a desire to better understand cultures unlike my own, as well as explore the social movements that exist all around me.
I had no idea that there were so many different people in my hometown that were all experiencing different struggles. The visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights was a big reason for this; I was thrust into a world of inequality and misunderstanding that I knew existed, but never thought it affected me. I have learned that these things impact all of us. Everyone’s experience is different, but we all live in the same world that is way too full of stereotypes, prejudices, and hate.
Class discussions and reading about the early days of the Women’s Rights Movement led me to want to explore this movement further. I came across Ruth Bader Ginsburg after seeing a documentary about her on CNN. I chose to look at the progression of this movement and the rhetoric that was used and then see dig into Ginsburg’s speeches and writings to uncover the similarities and differences. Not only did I learn a great deal about the movement, Justice Ginsburg, and rhetorical style, I also discovered a passion for these injustices.
This new understanding of my place in society has opened my eyes to all that is around me. I have learned that the voices of those that came before us got us to where we are today, and it’s our own voices that will take us to a better, more equal and safe home. We must learn from those that came before us, borrow their strategies, and keep moving forward.
As I move forward to a career in law, I will take this knowledge and new understanding with me. I plan to pursue a career in advocacy upon graduating from law school in a few years. From my exploration of social movements and my analysis of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rhetoric, I know that my voice has the potential to make a difference. I hope to take what I have learned, especially from the wisdom of the ‘Notorious RBG’, and continue to speak up for the rights of all women in America. We have been fighting for over a century now, and it does not look like the end is in sight, but we must keep working.