“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” by Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, born into slavery, was an abolitionist, human rights and women's rights activist, orator, author, journalist, newspaper publisher and social reformer. Below is an excerpt from a speech he gave in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1852.

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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 denunciation of tyrants brass-fronted impudence; your shout 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 the United States, at this very hour.

For the full speech see http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/douglassjuly4.html