Ulli K. Ryder Talks about What July 4th Can Mean in Today’s World

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?”

Read Ulli Ryder’s essay from the Feminist Wire here.

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.


Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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