Portrait of Frederick Douglass as a younger man, 1855 (J.C. Buttre, Wikimedia Commons).
In recognition of the Fourth of July, The North Star revisits Fredrick Douglass’s famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” (1852). Delivered at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York, on July 5, 1852, the speech confronted the hypocrisy of white Americans who celebrated ‘freedom and democracy’ in a nation with four million enslaved Black people. The speech was arguably Douglass’s most influential speech, and more than 150 years later, its core message remains as relevant as ever. The following is an abridged version. The full text of the speech can be found here.
…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of…
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