Posted by: morgan1965 | July 3, 2018

Racism & The Fourth of July

The Fourth of July is an annual celebration with important historical roots. It is the day when we celebrate American Independence Day. This day represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent nation. It was on July 4, 1776 that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. The American Revolution had started in April 1775.

The Declaration in part says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, 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. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” This declaration did not include black Americans, neither free nor slave, either philosophically or in practical terms.

The Revolutionary War did not include black people in the armies until about 1776. The necessity of manpower compelled the states to begin using black troops and sailors. The historical record reveals that Negro enlistment, from colonial times until the twentieth century, would be skipped in the initial stages of armed conflict. When black folk served in the military, they served in segregated units.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglas delivered his now famous oration: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” In his speech Douglas, a former slave, said: “The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a bye-word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds indolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! Be warned! Be warned! A horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!”

Douglas went on to point out that what he denounced was “guaranteed and sanctioned by the Constitution of the United States; that the right to hold and to hunt slaves is a part of that Constitution framed by the illustrious Fathers of this Republic.” So, Frederick Douglas posed a profound query: “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” The Fourth of July celebration at that time was a day of “Mourning” for slaves and former slaves like himself. It was a sad reminder of the unfulfilled promise of equal liberty for all that is couched in the Declaration of Independence.

Even after the progress that has been made to establish liberty for all people, black and white, is The Fourth of July a day of celebration, not only for white Americans, but also for black Americans and other people of color?

The reality is that slavery has been abolished, but racism still abounds in America. Racism has a variety of manifestations in modern day America. Here are a few current examples: Waiting for a meeting at Starbucks; Golfing; Barbecuing; Napping in a common area of one’s dorm; and Moving into your own home. A recent Huffington Post article was titled, “People Questioned, Filmed and Called Police On Black Oakland Firefighter. This firefighter was in uniform and carrying a clipboard while performing an annual fire inspection of houses. His fire truck was parked nearby.

What does the Fourth of July mean to you in 2018? What does the Fourth of July mean for America?

Think about it?

Let’s celebrate the Fourth of July with a renewed commitment to end racism in America.

 

 

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