• Jul 2, 2013

The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro: 5th Annual Communal Reading of a Lecture by Frederick Douglass

  • 12:00 PM
  • Boston Common, Across from the State House, Boston, MA

douglassFellow citizens, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?

In his fiery July 5, 1852 speech, known both as “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro” and “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Frederick Douglass famously took exception to being asked to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. What brought him to this moment? What did he try to achieve? Was he un-patriotic or ultra-American? Did he actually dissociate himself from American citizenship or embrace it with this speech? It behooves us to read the speech and learn. This year we will also read excerpts from the Emancipation Proclamation.

Co-sponsored by: 54th Mass Volunteer Regt Company A, Company C (MA NG Honor Guard) — Boston African American National Historic Site — Boston NAACP — Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice — City School — Commonwealth Compact — Community Change, Inc. — Eastern Bank — First Church Boston — MA Office of Access and Opportunity — Mass Humanities — Massachusetts Black Empowerment Coalition — Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket — Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists — NAACP New England — New Democracy Coalition — PressPass TV — Ten Point Coalition — Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts — YWCA Boston — YWCA Cambridge