By Vanessa Rivers
Updated from original post on July 4, 2018:
Two years have come & gone since I originally made this post, but sadly an over & abundance amount of proof has slapped us in the face that we have NOTHING to celebrate. Black people weren’t free then, & still aren’t free now to live in peace.
“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” is the title of a speech given by Frederick Douglass on July 4, 1852; this was one of his many speaking engagements between 1850 and 1860, before the beginning of the Civil War. Mr. Douglass points out the hypocrisy of him being asked to deliver a speech on Independence Day, a day which celebrates freedoms that excluded black people, as if he or any black person would want to be apart of such a celebration.
I’m with Frederick Douglass, why would black people then, or now for that matter, want to partake in a celebration for “invaders”, I mean, “colonist” who by winning the Revolutionary War, gained their “independence and freedom” from the British, while they still owned human beings. What HYPICROCY!!!
The likelihood that the signers of the “Declaration of Independence”, the night prior had made a “midnight raid”, and I’m not talking about the “Paul Revere” type, to the slave quarters, to rape one of his slaves is high. These upstanding, educated fathers of our democracy, were monstrous murdering, rapist who enslaved black people, including their own offspring, how sick is that, all because they were not seen as human beings due to the color of their skin.
Why are black people still celebrating “Independence Day” with BBQing, and setting off fireworks, what are WE celebrating? Forty-three states are currently recognizing “Juneteenth” as either a state or ceremonial holiday already, so let’s build upon that. Let’s replace “July 4th BBQ’s” with “Juneteenth BBQ’s”, and commemorate freedom for ALL Americans as a fulfillment of the declaration “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator” “…with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
What will we do on July 4th? Let’s use it as a “day of service and activism”. This would be the perfect day to call attention to issues which need highlighting in our communities, with marches, voter registration/education, especially ahead of what’s ahead of us in 2020 etc.…, the possibilities are endless. Here’s the beautiful part of this, if July 4th is a paid holiday for you, you’ll be off anyway, so this will be the perfect day for you to get involved, and you’ll get paid to do it.
If we want Juneteenth recognized as a holiday, as it should, by ALL American’s, (“Why Isn’t Juneteenth a Federal Holiday”? June 19, 2018 blog post), then we are going to have to do it ourselves, just like with everything else.
Here is a portion of Mr Douglass’ speech, his entire speech can be found at the link.
“The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”
…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?
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 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 the United States, at this very hour.