All right. So you all must have expected a post from me on July 4th - this a celebration of America's liberty and justice for all. But rather than giving my personal words of protest against a government I no longer believe in, my words against a war that continues to murder civilians and soldiers alike, my words against the most deceitful Administration ever to lead this country - these men disregard, without apology, the laws and protections provided by the U.S. Constitution because they believe they are above the law; they have brought the U.S. into an everlasting, perpetual war with not a physical enemy, but an ideology; all to control America's citizens with fear that their own lives are in danger unless they cooperate fully with whatever this gang asks of them. A government that has abandoned the majority of its citizens in order to reward corporate interests and their benefactors all in the name of the all mighty dollar while the middle class struggles with 50 hour work weeks, healthcare debt and no federally mandated living wage and the poor struggle to simply survive each day.
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Instead, I found something that speaks more eloquently than that. The following is an excerpt from Frederick Douglass's speech entitled The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro. For those of you who don't know, Frederick Douglass was a famous black abolitionist and was asked to speak all over the country in the years leading up to the Civil War. He became an advisor to President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and worked tirelessly to pass the 13th, 14th & 15th amendments of the Constitution. He not only fought for the equality of African Americans, but lended his support to the women's suffrage movement until his death in 1895.
This speech was given on July 5, 1852 when Douglass was asked to speak to a gathering in Rochester, NY commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. While he provided praise and honor to the "Founding Fathers" for their vision and courage in leading the way in creating a great nation, much of the speech was an indictment of America's systematic enslavement of Africans and African Americans. (If you'd like to read the full text of the speech click on the link at the bottom of the post)
The following not only speaks volumes about slavery, his intended subject, but about the direction of and issues facing this country today in 2006:
"I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fa thers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn . . ."
"Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world . . . I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July!"
"We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future. To all inspiring motives, to noble deeds which can be gained from the past, we are welcome. But now is the time, the important time. Your fathers have lived, died, and have done their work, and have done much of it well. You live and must die, and you must do your work."
Do your work, citizens - end this war, remove those who do not properly represent you in November, demand a better life for yourself and your neighbors (no matter where their birth certificates say they were born) and most importantly, treat one another with respect and understanding. We are all in this together.
This is a great nation, but only if its citizens work to make it so. Happy Fourth . . .