July 4, 2016
Although this article by Ulli K. Ryder was published in the Feminist Wire for July 4, 2011, its message is just as applicable right now, all these years later. Our country has come so far, yet there is so much left to do in seeking justice for all.
Dr. Ryder begins her essay by quoting from a 4th of July speech given by Frederick Douglass in 1852. Douglass had escaped slavery, traveled to the North, and went on to become one of our country’s foremost abolitionists. He was publisher of an anti-slavery newspaper in Rochester, NY, when he was asked to speak as part of the city’s Independence Day celebration. He pointed out the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom when millions of the country’s people were still in slavery.
In her article, Ryder writes: “Frederick Douglass, were he alive today, would no doubt be proud of our progress and our national resilience. But how would he judge, as he did on that 4th of July celebration in 1852, our adherence to the ideals of our founders? Then, he reminded us that our Founding Fathers (and mothers, I add) decided ‘to side with the right against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor!’”
Ryder says, “”We live in a different world now. We have different fears, different needs and different desires. Or do we?”
Related Reading: You can read Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech here. Or you can listen to Danny Glover reading highlights from the speech here. In the video, Glover is introduced by Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States.