Today, the 4th of July, reminds us of our independence but not of its universality or equity. Frederick Douglass famously called attention to America’s hypocrisy in his 4th of July speech in 1852. Recently, his descendants read portions of his speech, which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBe5qbnkqoM
As Davout says in his powerful article, Douglass called for a better America, one that would move beyond empty patriotic gestures. It’s a message that’s even more urgently needed today.
Colin Kaepernick (#7) takes a knee
A week after Super Bowl Sunday, I was reading Frederick Douglass’s “Fourth of July Address,” given by the intrepid abolitionist and eminent public intellectual on July 5, 1852 to several hundred spectators in Rochester, New York. It struck me then how contemporary Douglass’s antebellum insights into the nature of patriotism in America seemed, especially in the wake of an NFL season steeped in controversy over football players (mostly African-American) taking a knee during the national anthem. Their symbolic protest, dismissed by some, notably including a tweeting president, as unpatriotic, was intended to highlight how police encounters with people of color in this country all too often and disproportionately end in unjustified uses of deadly force.
Frederick Douglass near the time of the Rochester Speech, given on the 5th of July 1852
At the time of his Fourth of July Address…
View original post 461 more words