Happy Independence Day Week! Today we will listen to an old podcast from uscitizenpod: USCIS 100:99 July 4th, Slavery, and Fredrick Douglass
We will first read about Q99 from the USCIS M638 quick civics lesson. Then we will discuss the Declaration of Independence, the Compromise of 1850, and abolitionist Fredrick Douglass. Then we will listen to a short reading from Fredrick Douglass speech: “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.” Note that Negro was a common term for Black or African-Americans, but it is not often used today. Let's get started.
excerpt from The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro by Fredrick Douglass
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 cruelly to which he 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...
TimelessReader1: Meaning of July 4th for the Negro - Frederick Douglass Speech - Hear the Text
Listen to and read text from The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro, written by abolitionist and former slave: Frederick Douglass. Frederick Douglass presented this speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, NY. This speech concludes with a poem, a peace prayer, written by William Lloyd Garrison
For more info:
See zinnedproject.org: Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom
Watch actor Danny Glover read abolitionist Frederick Douglass's "Fourth of July Speech, 1852" on October 5, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. Part of a reading from Voices of a People's History of the United States (Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove.)
NPR: ‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass' Speech
The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms. In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" which asks all of us to consider America's long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.