Quote by Frederick Douglass: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of Jul...”
Frederick Douglass: The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro
‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’: Why Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech still resonates
Independence Day in recent decades has unfortunately become the symbolic gateway to summer in America — featuring grilling and grog, picnics and pyrotechnics, grandiose commercial send-ups of summer cinema, baseball and buoyant, unending hours of beach time. 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. Yet the holiday and the sacred civic pronouncement for decades harbored contradictions that maintained the subjugation of women, the exploitation of non-English-speaking immigrants, the degradation of Native Americans and the humiliation of African humans. In a speech given in Rochester, New York, on July 5, , Douglass rose to the occasion with searing hot rhetoric:. The coming into being of a nation, in any circumstances, is an interesting event.
He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered.
"What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" is the title now given to a speech by Frederick Douglass delivered on July 5, Douglass said that slaves owed nothing to the American founding: What have I, or those I represent, to do They did this through religion or more specifically, the church. Because the church stood behind.
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A black-and-white photograph of Frederick Douglass wearing a jacket, waistcoat, and bowtie. The wet plate ambrotype plates are housed in a folding leather case with tooled gilt oval mat. It was a scathing speech in which Douglass stated, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine, You may rejoice, I must mourn. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too, great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men.