“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July”
I’m sitting at my desk right now getting ready to go to a Company BBQ. The thought of July 4th is currently focused on friends, family, the lake, the food and of course……the fireworks. I thought that I might give a speech or say something when all are gathered and then it dawned on me that July 4th speeches tend to be as gaudy as the showers of fireworks that end the day and as short-lived. I think that’s probably for the best. Most of those elaborate July 4th addresses deserve to be forgotten. True patriotism goes beyond mindless self-congratulation; it includes honestly and soberly facing up our national shortcomings as well as our successes.
That’s why one of the best 4th of July speeches in our history was given on July 5, in the year 1852. The speaker was the great African-American leader Frederick Douglass, and his topic was, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July”.
Douglass was an imposing figure, both physically and intellectually. Photographs of him show a man of iron determination, with a head like a lion and piercing dark eyes. A runaway slave, largely self-educated, he willed himself to become a master of the written and spoken word. He was a superb orator, and his topic was deliberately provocative. He was challenging Americans to live up to the principles they celebrated the day before.
Either all men, regardless of race, were created equal, and endowed by their creator with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or the Declaration of Independence was a hollow mockery, and America itself was a fraud.
“The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretense, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing, and a by word to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government, the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement, the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet, you cling to it, as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! Be warned! Be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation’s bosom; the venomous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away, and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destroy it forever!”
Ultimately, Douglass’ faith in America was vindicated; the serpent of slavery was crushed. But even today, we still cannot claim that we are fully living up to the grand promises embodied in the Declaration of Independence. So, on 4th of July, let us celebrate those promises, but let us spend the remaining days of the year working to ensure that those promises are kept.
I wish you all a very safe and fun filled Independence Day.
May God Bless America
Marty L. Moses Jr.
Just Snooping.com, Inc. - Vice President