Thursday, July 2, 2015

‘What, to the American Slave, Is Your 4th of July?’ (from @Truthdig)


Posted on Jul 1, 2015  By Amy Goodman

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” asked Frederick Douglass of the crowd gathered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, N.Y., on July 5, 1852. “I answer,” he continued, “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which lie is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham.”

Douglass escaped slavery in 1838 and became one of the most powerful and eloquent orators of the abolitionist movement. His Independence Day talk was organized by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society. Douglass extolled the virtues of the Founding Fathers, those who signed the Declaration of Independence. Then he brought the focus to the present, to 1852. He said:

“I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?” Read more here: What, to the American Slave, Is Your 4th of July?’ (from @Truthdig)

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