Saturday, July 3, 2010

Frederick Douglass, 4th of July speech all over the place

A tip o' th' doiby to rrp for the reminder about Douglass, as I've been sidetracked.

As most of us know, on July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass spoke on “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.” (“What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”) This year I'm going to attend one traditional “patriotic” event and one patriotism-neutral event over the 4th of July weekend. Neither is likely to be heavily populated with POC. As with any large crowd on a holiday, some attendees will be irony-impaired, even if they are of liberal mindset, while others will be quite aware and a joy to talk to. So the Douglass speech, originally given to a white audience, may be appropriate to have freshly in mind and in context.

There are many readings of the Douglas speech online. I like Morgan Freeman's at YouTube has others, including James Earl Jones and Danny Glover (if you're not mad at him this week for ever having associated with Mel Gibson). For the readers amongst you, the original text is readily available as well.



Event-wise, Massachusetts has quite an interesting and supportive way of acknowledging the speech this year (mileage in your home state--yeah, lookin' at you, Arizona--may vary):
Published: Tuesday, June 29, 2010, 12:45 PM

SPRINGFIELD - A communal reading of Frederick Douglass' fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” will take place Wednesday at noon in Court Square....

The event is part of a state-wide series of readings that is partially funded by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local collaborating organizations are the Springfield Museums, the City of Springfield, Mass Humanities, the Springfield Cultural Council and Art for the Soul Gallery.

Additional sponsors are The Brethren, Olive Tree Books and Voices, PAHMUSA, Springfield NAACP, and the Teaching American History Program of the Springfield Public Schools.

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