Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Friday, July 3, 2009

Frederick Douglass' Fourth of July Speech

"It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
--Frederick Douglass
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."
--Frederick Douglass

"Listen up. Today, this 4th of July weekend, The Daddy is feeling the honorable Frederick Douglass, the great African American leader and fiery abolitionist speaker, and, parenthetically, the person who pressured President Abraham Lincoln to write the Emancipation Proclamation speech.

During the 1850's, Frederick Douglass, a tremendously gifted speaker, spent about six months out of each year making speeches against slavery and for freedom, including the freedom of women.

On July 5, 1852, he gave a speech on the Declaration of Independence. It was held at the Corinthian Hall, in Rochester, not far from his home in Rochester, New York. It was a biting and, at times, fiery speech. Whether the audience wanted to hear it or not, a brotha spoke the truth as boldly as anyone has spoken it before. He said, "The Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." Gazing into the crowd, he asked, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today?"

Then he made what biographer and historian Philip S. Foner called "...probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass' speeches."

Douglass said:

"What to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty 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 sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, 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 the Unites States at this very hour..."

Have you heard of Douglass' Fourth of July speech? Does some of his accusations still hold true today, more than 157 years after his speech?


SjP said...

Hey Mac!

Much obliged for this one. I'd not read this before. And yes, 157 years later his words are chilling. Of course, there will be many who would say that his words no longer ring true because of the Obama presidency - but they, imo, are in denial.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Love this post, Mac. I recall reading it last year. Douglass' words are true today, no doubt.
We may be a great nation, but until we confess the sins of our fathers and the sins of today and make ammends, our claims of greatness are hollow shallow cries of desperation and dilusion.

My Native friends have similar reactions at Thanksgiving time.

nicki nicki tembo said...

"...picture us coolin' out on a fourth of July and if you heard we were celebrating it's a world wide lie" - lyrics from Louder Than a Bomb, Public Enemy

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this particular speech, but it rings true today. I immediately thought about how liberals couldn't speak freely during the past eight years, and then there's those prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have yet to face a trial and have their guilt proven.

Nun in the Hood said...

Happy, Happy 4th of July, MacDaddy! Just imagine, last year at this time we were anxious about upcoming you remember the campaigning that was alrleady in full swing????
NOW, we have a president living in a house built by slaves! A constant reminder of a bloody and shameful dimension of our history....But let's coninue to be...honest, yes, for the sake of healing these deep wounds...but let's also be HOPEFUL....Let's support our president with positive vibrations of LOVE& PEACE! He needs us to support his hopes and dreams for his country and ours....With Ann Frank, I believe in the basic goodness of people, and there are still lots of those around-YOU for instance.....

MacDaddy said...

Nun: Thanks for the kind words. Yes, we have a new president. Yes, we should be hopeful and supportive. But I also believe we need to understand our history: what we Americans have gone through to get an African American like Barack Obama into the presidency. If we did, he wouldn't be having such a hard time getting national healthcare, good environmental policies, and replacing Don't Ask Don't Tell with a sensible for gay people in this country. So what did you think of the speech?

Nun in the Hood said...

How did I LIKE the speech??? It's not one I could 'like'....nor 'like to hear'.....But that's the way it is with prophets.....Look at the bible...We killed every one of them, and as a friend once said...A prophet is not someone you'd like to go out to lunch with...So while I found the speech hard to read, I know there are truths in it that we as a people still do not want to admit....Hopefully, Douglass would see some progress today....I wonder if he would still say that this country is the bloodiest with violence in the world...I wonder.....But,you know, I still want to celebrate family and community today...Despair is self destructive; it is important to put Frederick Douglass' words in a larger least for me....Denial is not a good thing either...How do we hold it ALL???

MacDaddy said...

Nun: Well sated. Thank you.

MacDaddy said...

"But,you know, I still want to celebrate family and community today...Despair is self destructive..."
I don't think it's despair to acknowledge that we've come far in this country but still have a long ways to go...It's easy to positive if we ignore history, especially that part of history where we oppressed people in the past and continue to do so today. That's what we've been doing in this country-- ignoring our past and its impact on the present. That's why it's so difficult to face the daunting challenges now-- we choose not to acknowledge our true history.