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Social Media Reacts To The Complicated Relationship Blacks Have With The 4th Of July


The 4th of July is complicated for Black people…well some. While America was celebrating its freedom from Britain, they still held hundreds of thousands of Black people in captivity. How do you celebrate freedom when we’re only free-ish? More inside….


Black Americans are always reminded of our complicated relationship to this country, especially when the country celebrates the 4th of July/Independence Day.

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was passed, declaring the freedom of the 13 American colonies from Great Britain. While colonists celebrated their independence, there were still hundreds of thousands of Black people still enslaved.

The last enslaved African-Americans weren’t notified that they were free until June 19, 1865, which is why we celebrate Juneteenth, which just became a national holiday last year. And still, 157 years later, Blacks in America are still only “free-ish.”

The 4th of July put America’s hypocrisy on BLAST - how are you celebrating freedom while simultaneously enslaving folks?

Abolitionist Frederick Douglas called America out in a significant keynote address he delivered in Rochester, New York titled “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” on July 5, 1852.

He said:

"What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.”

”The existence of slavery in this country brands your republicanism as a sham, your humanity as a base pretence, and your Christianity as a lie. It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home.”


After the Civil War ended in 1865, Blacks could actually celebrate "freedom," so Independence Day became a holiday blacks would celebrate with family gatherings where they would recite the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. White Southerners saw the 4th of July as a celebration of Confederate defeat. In the 1870s, white mobs began to terrorize Blacks celebrating on the 4th.

So, the 4th of July has a lot of history behind it and Blacks still debate whether the holiday should be celebrated or not. Check out a few tweets on social media about it:





















Do you think Black Americans should celebrate the 4th of July?

Photo:  Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

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