“What does the fourth of July mean to slaves?”-5 stars in a speech by Frederick Douglas


It is July 4th, and people all over the United States will reflect on the history of their beloved country.

When they celebrated the Declaration of Independence in 1776, they might also want to remind themselves of the speech delivered by an abolitionist and former slave decades later.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass—also a well-known writer, orator, social reformer, and politician—published a paper called “July Fourth For Slaves What is it?” speech. In his speech at Collins Hall in Rochester, New York, Douglas pointed out that since slavery is still prevalent throughout the United States, the declaration is hypocritical.

His lectures are widely taught in history and English classes in American high schools and universities, and are still an important part of the country’s history.

Over the years, it has been recited by several famous performers and a group of Douglas descendants.

On July 5 last year, the National Public Radio released a video showing the five young relatives of this great abolitionist-20-year-old Douglas Washington Morris II, 15-year-old Isidore Dama Douglas Skinner, 17-year-old Hayley Rose Watson, 12-year-old Zoe Douglas Skinner, and Alexa Anne Watson, 19-take turns reading.

Here are five famous actors and activists who also gave speeches.

James Earl Jones

July 5, 2004, Star wars Actor James Earl Jones recites excerpts from Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove’s “Voice of American People’s History” project.

Sixteen years later, Jones’ performance was shared with millions of people on social media. At the time NBA Superstar LeBron James posted a video to his Twitter with Instagram account.

Morgan Freeman

Oscar winner Morgan Freeman also recited an excerpt “What is July 4th for slaves?” His credits include The Shawshank Redemption, Million dollar baby with dark Knight Trilogy-and unbeatable, In which he played another great orator Nelson Mandela.

Danny Glover

Like Jones, Danny Glover gave Douglas words for Zinn and Arnoff’s historical projects. This actor and activist is best known for his role as Roger Murtaugh in the movie Lethal weapon Movie and his performance The color is purple.

He is an active activist for civil rights in the United States and around the world, and a long-term supporter of trade unions.

Ossie Davis

Actor and civil rights leader Ossie Davis delivered many great speeches throughout his life, including a eulogy at Malcolm X’s funeral, paying tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. the day after his assassination—and In the 1975 recording, Douglas’s speech.

Davis and his wife Rubidi were prominent figures in the civil rights movement and close friends of Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson and MLK. The couple helped organize and host the march for work and freedom held in Washington in 1963.

As an actor, he earned more than 100 credits and later became famous for playing roles in Spike Lee movies. He died in 2005.

Balaton De Thurston

Comedian, writer and critic Baratunde Thurston performed “What is the Fourth of July for Slaves?” on stage in 2016. Thurston co-founded the political blog Jack and Jill Politics and published a best-selling book, How to turn black, in 2012.

What is the content of the speech?

Douglas argued in 1852 that celebrating the values ​​of freedom and citizenship on Independence Day was an offense to the enslaved American population who lacked freedom and identity.

Douglas called the founding fathers “brave” and “great man”, but pointed out the hypocrisy of the “Declaration of Independence” which promoted “life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness.”

He said: “This July 4th is yours, not mine. You can be happy, and I must mourn.

“What is the relationship between me or the people I represent and your national independence?

“Do the great principles of political freedom and natural justice embodied in the Declaration of Independence apply to us?”

He continued: “For American slaves, what is your fourth of July? I replied; this day reveals to him more serious injustice and cruelty than all other days of the year. He has always been victimized. By.

Douglas also criticized the church for not taking a stand against slavery and betraying their Christian values.

Frederick Douglass circa 1860, engraved by AH Ritchie. After getting rid of slavery, he became a leader, writer, orator and social reformer of the abolitionist movement.
Engraved by AH Ritchie/Kean Collection/Getty Images

When he talked about the founding fathers, he said: “The pressure drives the wise men mad. Your father is a wise man. If they don’t go mad, they become uneasy under this treatment. They feel that they are the victims of serious mistakes. There is no cure. There is always a way to treat oppression if there is a brave person.”

Towards the end of the speech, Douglas called for the abolition of slavery, believing that it could be abolished with the support of the church.

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation came into effect on January 1, 1863, but it would take longer to end slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, the last Confederate slaves were released in Texas-known as June 19 It is a federal holiday.

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