REPRINTED from 2020 -by Jada Roberts, Dahlia Ferrol, and Sabina Ferrol
“Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them.”
Words from Frederick Douglass’ speech are applicable to people of color in the U.S. in 2020 because although slavery officially “ended” in 1865, people of color still experience the effects of slavery today.
On July 4th, 1776, as America celebrated their Independence Day with the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, which claims that all men are created equal with inviolable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Negros were unable to participate in this celebration with the rest of the nation being that they have never been treated as equals. These proclaimed rights did not adhere to Negros because of the fact that slavery was still present and existed in the first place. Fredrick Douglass, one of the most popular abolitionists and social reformers at this time, spoke out against this matter in his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
These words from Mr. Douglass’ speech, “ The rich inheritance of justice, liberty prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me”. These statements resonate with me, even in modern times, being that what is beneficial to the white man is not beneficial to the Negro. For example, police officers are paid to protect and serve all people, however, to the Negro they inflict death and pain.
Let’s expose the reality of living in America, the proclaimed “ land of the free and the home of the brave”, shall we? One idolized holiday celebrated to the masses where colorful fireworks burst high in the sky, families gather rejoicing one of the greatest ‘uplifting’ days in U.S. history is The Fourth of July. A national holiday known as one of the biggest celebrated remembrances in America centered around the commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. A written document named after highlighting the independence for all men. However not all men were considered treated fairly as their fellow neighbors.
This exposes flaws within the backbone structure of America. First, the authors of this document were the well-known Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. Clearly, the primary denominator is that all were powerful white men. A document featuring the famous lines: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” and have “certain unalienable rights” – among them “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
This declaration was constructed on empty promises and sweet nothings purposely written to fill a void. People of color were still feared, murdered, segregated, harassed, abused, and experienced traumatizing life experiences. The Declaration of Independence was written in June 1776, however slavery wasn’t abolished until 1865. Most notably, it was the Thirteenth Amendment (1865) which attentively ended slavery physically but emotionally. The shackles of injustice lived on within the mindset of African slaves and passed from generations to generations. People of color weren’t considered “free” in the past nor are they today. The heavy chains are un-cuffed from our wrists nevertheless it still suffocates people of colors’ existence.
On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass addressed the unspoken truth of American naive blindness to believe that there were equal society values, such as liberty, citizenship, and freedom. This public announcement revealed offensive disregard toward the enslaved population of the United States due to lack of freedom, liberty, and citizenship. Unfortunately, despite this declaration being hundreds of years old the same injustice is present in the 21st century. Insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Injustice caused by the white population to the colored population is an ongoing repetitive act. You find that it’s different people, different acts of violences, however all are rooted from the same belief.
Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them…” – “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?“ selection -Frederick Douglass
In his “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”, Frederick Douglass stated, “Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.
Here, this section designated to correlate Douglass’s speech into current day terms to show the shocking resemblance between the past and the future. Many families commemorate annually the Fourth of July while others have to acknowledge their loved absence due to police brutality. Families and friends may host a barbecue or boat ride on the open seas while others host a wake for their passed loved ones. As the burst fireworks exploded into the night sky, people of color are hosting candlelight vigils in honor of murdered victims from police brutality. Instead of families looking to the sky in admiration over the beautiful sky are weighed down by emotional stress from looking at a cemetery.
Racism runs deep. There is a fear of the dark; dark complexion. We are not all created equal. It is all a facade filled with pretty wording to hide the reality of who truly created that law.
In 1776, white men decided their beliefs were superior to all lives, and in the 21st century, police believe their intentions are justifiable. The pen and quill stroked unreliable ‘nothings’ by powerful white supremacists on the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
There were no African American representatives, no Native Americans “savages” representatives, no Chinese representatives, or no Hispanics representatives when creating an act for all equal parties. People of color are attacked for the shade of their complexion in which they would always be considered armed and dangerous.
The color black has always been considered a ‘feared’ color. Police brutality has perceived that the people of color are violent even unarmed. Police brutality varies with actions of withdrawn guns, body slamming our bodies, and firing nameless bullets at the innocent. Racism runs deep. There is a fear of the dark; dark complexion. We are not all created equal. It is all a facade filled with pretty wording to hide the reality of who truly created that law. This persona allows people of color to actively voice their Fourteenth Amendment which grants the rights of American citizenship. It expresses people of color in countless protests, marches, and non-violence demonstrations demanding true equality.
The words from his speech resonate with a vast majority of racial issues that have been occurring today. Now more than ever it is important to bring awareness to these matters and let America know that
Across the United States and globally, protestors have been wearing black to show unity and shouting “Black Lives Matter!” BLM is an international human rights movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.
Many Americans are united together to commemorate the lives taken with the Black Lives Matter movement’s progress by publicizing the “Say His Name”, “Say Her Name”, and “Say Their Name” campaign. The worst action committed by a person is to possess complete ignorance and negligence. Similar to, families and black activists holding the police accountable for their actions. The police feel entitled by the badge on their chest that makes them somewhat more superior to a civilian. Some forget the phrase “to serve and protect all” which refers to all citizens not the cops. It is scandalous to be threatened by someone’s color of skin than an actual weapon. Police are armed with guns instead of whips. The chants of “Black Lives Matter” echoes just like the slave carols sung during hardship times throughout the nation.
It’s the same story just different names all centered around people of color who are said to be free, however who are weighed down by the gravity of a white man’s knee. If people of color don’t take a stance and voice their concerns, you find that accountability would never be given. The police and justice system is in disarray. Abolitionism has become replaced with large protests in different countries taking a knee on U.S. soil. Justice and equality won’t apply to people of color unless every race is valued for their humanity rather than their pigment rate.
Unlike unnamed slaves, we can remember and honor the fallen who were taken too soon:
George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbrey, Philando Castille, Matice Green, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, Freddie Gray, Antwon Rose Jr., Ezell Ford, Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, Michelle Cuusseaux, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Janisha Fonville, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Tanisha Anderson...
Unlike unnamed slaves, we can remember and honor the fallen who were taken too soon: George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbrey, Philando Castille, Matice Green, Michael Brown, Sean Bell, Freddie Gray, Antwon Rose Jr., Ezell Ford, Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, Michelle Cuusseaux, Atatiana Jefferson, Aura Rosser, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Janisha Fonville, Akai Gurley, Gabriella Nevarez, Tanisha Anderson…