Wednesday marks the 242nd birthday of America as we know it. In 1776, the Declaration of independence recognized the thirteen original colonies of America as a nation independent of Britain.
On this day, many American families will celebrate the traditional way. There will be cookouts, fireworks, beers, concerts, baseball games, and all things American.
One might ask, “who wouldn’t want to be a part of these festivities?” The answer: descendent of American slaves.
In 1776, slaves in America were still not freed. It wasn’t until almost 100 years later in 1865 that the North defeated the South in the American Civil War. Then President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which legally ended slavery. It would be another century before African- Americans saw their civil rights.
Frederick Douglass, an African- American abolitionist and social reformer, was one of the most notable people to reject the adaptation of “Independence Day” celebrations amongst blacks in America in the 1800’s. He argued that the idea of freedom and equality, which America supposedly founded itself on was a fraud.
Here’s an excerpt from his speech “What, to the American Slave, Is your Forth of July?”
Many people in America still live disadvantaged by systematic oppressions and rules. Within days leading up to the most patriotic day on the American calendar, immigrants are fighting for their basic human rights, Donald Trump is repealing policies which encourage diversity, police killings of minorities is running rapid, Flint Michigan still has dirty water, Puerto Rico is on its last two legs during hurricane season from a hurricane that struck last year, and Muslims are on a travel ban.
The revised version of Frederick Douglass’ question should probably read: “What, to the nonwhite American, Is your Fourth of July?”
Many people will celebrate the day regardless of social injustice.