Frederick Douglass on the 4th of July

Frederick Douglass’ classic speech ruminating on the meaning of the 4th of July to the slave

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

is worth revisiting as we celebrate this national holiday.  Tragically, although our nation no longer abides institutionalized slavery, the lingering effects remain deeply entrenched in our institutions, policies, and practices.

Here’s a key excerpt from the speech:  “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; 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; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

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