July 4th For What?

This July 4th celebration is going to feel quite different for a large segment of Americans. With the inordinate number of police killings of blacks, the question as to what the Fourth of July means to our culture and our people is appropriate. This issue was addressed by Frederick Douglass in 1852 with his famous speech, “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?” before the Rochester, New York Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society. His speech, in many ways, pointed out the hypocrisy of a country enjoying a day predicated on freedom, when over four million men, women and children languished in an oppressive system throughout the south. Today, one-hundred and sixty-eight years later, with the killings of our black men and women, murdered at the hands of the various policemen throughout the country we might legitimately ask,” What to the families of these slain brothers and sisters of the race is the Fourth of July?” We can easily expand that to include the entire Black race in this country.

An additional question we might ask, is there any hope in the future that white racism will be eradicated in this country and Black Americans no longer must fight these senseless battles with senseless sick individuals? Is there a place in this country for Black Americans? This issue was first addressed by two wise men as early as 1852, when it appeared that soon slavery would come to an end. The first position was articulated by Dr. Martin DeLaney. He was born a free man in Charlestown, Virginia in 1812, but his family was forced to flee their home because his mother taught all her children to read and write. In 1852 Dr. DeLaney wrote his famous tract, “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered.” It was his position that in this country the black man and woman always functioned from a position of weakness, because of the overwhelming control of the whites, who functioned from a position of power. It was his belief that the black race would never be equal to the whites, because the latter clearly enjoyed their position of strength within the economic, political and social structure of this country. The use of police power over the Blacks was and still is a weapon they readily use to maintain their superior position. Dr. DeLaney concluded that whites were incapable of changing, and the best that blacks could do was to leave this country and seek another land for themselves. However, he was never able to identify just where that could happen.

The other position was articulated by Frederick Douglass, the man known as the leading proponent and spokesperson for freedom for the slaves. Douglass stood in strong opposition to the idea of emigration. His main objection was that it falsely assumed that “there was no hope for blacks in America.” Douglass also was convinced that moral suasion was possible. Unlike DeLaney, he was convinced of the strength of the moral argument. Echoing the human rights argument found in the Declaration of Independence, Douglass explained that it was self-evident that Blacks had human rights and therefore were entitled to all the rights and privileges, which are a part of human nature. Douglass’s view that all persons have human rights, gave him reason to reject DeLaney’s view that moral appeals from one group to another are pointless and delusional. He also rejected DeLaney’s belief that prejudice was permanent. Douglass also rejected the notion that blacks could not be politically assimilated into the country. Douglass declared: “I shall advocate for the “Negro” his most full and complete adoption into the great national family of America. I shall demand for him the most perfect civil and political equality, and that he shall enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities enjoyed by any other members of the body politic.”

Based on Dr. DeLaney’s assessment of the condition of the black man in America, the answer to our question is that there is no hope for the black race in this country. However, according to Frederick Douglass’s belief in the ability of white America to change, there still is hope. As we acknowledge the Fourth of July this year, the question remains, for what?

2 thoughts on “July 4th For What?

  1. marcellaashe@sbcglobal.net

    Fred Hello My friend.

    Your message comes across loud and clearly no clarification is needed. However most people of color has not yet recognized who what or where they are or better yet where they should be. For instance every protest become a looting party unnoticed that some of the people behind the mask wearing the Black Lives Matter T shirts are the same one doing property damage. Damage that will be placed on still yet another person of color. The monarch the parents and grandparents and great grands should have done what the Bible instructed us to do- “Train your children. Looting just took Sally’s register or clerk job leaving her with no income. Some of us and I say some of us have given residence to the wrong ideas about freedom- some of us need to evict the little demons that have no qualification in making anyone believe their freedom has been established and 100% supported because it has not!!! Our children loot neighborhood stores until the owner close the store. This take the morning walk to the store from the Senior Citizen that no longer drives and the children are away in another zone. Never want to strip our Senior from being independent but we need to equip our children with some independence. Sisters buy Asian hair that sweep their back and but – for what!! Home care for your hair long or short is all yours. Feel the real and stop the kill!! Women like women because men fail to be men – Men like men because women lost their sex appeal[smile out loud] The real is when we had Black Communities and White communities we started to build . Then comes brighter ideas to segregate and all of the other gates that separate men from being the head of household to taking the women out to work making more than their husbands and making the husband look like a whimp . Go ahead and shut me up!! The men failed to fight for their household . The women flaunted I can make my own money and I make more than you do. Yes , I can talk because I sent my ex husband back to school to get his electrical degree while I quit school so he could be better the head of our household. I was carrying a 4.0 GPA but stepped back to support my husband that worked in a carwash. Long story short – He ended up playing me with another woman after I set him up in business? Why do black me cheat on the ones that support their buts?? Why do black women cheat when they have a man working two jobs ? We are so screwed and we pass the mess on to the next generation and the next. I am tired of this conversation but will get back to it with you soon – Yah blessings and enjoy your night© @ Marcella Ashe AUTHOR/POET-

  2. afia57@aol.com

    A good one Fred.I tend to agree with your namesake but in order for a US to close the gap between them and US, steps must be taken by governments to close the Wealth Gap. Just as the government assisted whites time n time again

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