Black and white illustration of Frederick Douglass

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

by Frederick Douglass
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According to Douglass, what should the fourth of july mean to black people? from narrative of life of frederick douglass book

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On July 5, 1852 Douglass presented a speech regarding the Declaration of Independence. Here is a part of the speech titled, "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro."

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 sound 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 thanks-givings, 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.

The fourth of July is day when we celebrate freedom in the United States. But during the time of Douglass is meant different things to different people. Here we can see what it meant to the black person of this day. The thing with Douglass is that he respected many of the leaders of the day and had hope that the fourth of July would include true freedom for everyone, including blacks.

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