Diversity Minute 17: 4th of July History
4th of July History
An African American perspective
History is amazing and complicated.
Let’s talk about the 4th of July, a day that is celebrated across our nation, because of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yet, it’s also important to recognize that not everyone is comfortable celebrating this holiday.
Black Americans, people of African descent, were very much still enslaved during this time. This is why some of us are not comfortable celebrating the 4th of July, because it, literally, did not apply to us.
This is just one example of why it’s important to learn how our history has impacted diverse groups differently, so that we can move forward as inclusively as possible, and, have more empathy.
“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” by Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 (Teaching American History)
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 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. 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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