What Fourth of July Means for Some Black Americans

Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is a yearly celebration of the nationhood of the United States.

It is a federal holiday where Americans honor the passage of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by the Continental Congress. 

CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League, Cassandra Jennings mentioned that the forefathers decided to acquire independence and make America a place for freedom.

However, Jennings noted that whenever we look at the situation in real life and in history, the country and the practices that the people follow fall short.

Declaration of Independence was made, yet thousands of black people were still held captive

The Declaration of Independence declared freedom from Great Britain of 13 North American colonies.

Based on the founding documents of the United States, they explained that these 13 United colonies are of right should be free and be declared the Independent States. However, in 1776 even after the American colonies became a newly independent nation free from the control of Great Britain, hundreds of thousands of black people were still held captive. 

This prompted the President and Founder of the Black Expo Dr. Rick Warren to make comments stating that the Declaration of Indepences is the “most hypocritical document.”

Warren added that they were declaring freedom at one point, while on the other hand, they are enslaving people. He added that that is why some black Americans have a different view of the Fourth of July. 

However, the culture of today July 4th has been one of those holidays that are used by American families to get together. They look at it as an opportunity to get together instead of honoring Independence. 

Abolitionist Fredrick Douglass noted the “hypocrisy” of the Fourth of July

Abolitionist Frederick Douglas gave a significant message at an event in Rochester New York back on July 5, 1852, remembering the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his speech, Douglass acknowledged the Founding Fathers, as “brave men” for their dedication to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. 

However, he noted in his speech the hypocrisy of July 4th by posting a question saying: what does it mean to the slaves?

Douglas added that for him, that day reveals more than all the other days in the year. 

On the other hand, Chairman of the Black Political Association in California, Rory Kaufman noted that July 4th is a national holiday to celebrate the freedom of the country from Britain. However, Kaufman noted that black people were never equal or free. 

Founder of Sacramento Sister Circle, Christi Ketchum also made the same remark, saying that their people were not free. She added that her people are going through a “traumatic time” and the fight of black people for freedom, liberty, and justice continues.