The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

by Frederick Douglass

A speech given at Rochester, New York, July 5, 1852

Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens:

He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country school houses, avails me nothing on the present occasion…….

By Frederick Douglass
To National Juneteenth Network, Supporters & Friends:
As the “4th of July”, 1776, American Independence Day, comes around again, let us not forget that the ancestors of Americans of African descent were trapped in the tyranny of enslavement. Juneteenth, the “19th of June”, 1865, African-American Independence Day, America’s 2nd Independence Day, recognizing the end of enslavement, did not occur until over 88 years after the first “4th of July”. Juneteenth still goes mostly unrecognized by the national media and not yet personally acknowledged by President George Bush.

The words of Frederick Douglass, a former slave, brilliantly written in “What to the American Slave Is Your ‘4th of July'”, continues as the best historic reminder of why the “4th of July” should never be celebrated without being reminded of the significance of the “19th of June” in America.
Source:19 of June