The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

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unionblue

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Black folks around here don't celebrate the 4th. They have family reunions.
White folks everywhere tend to think Memorial Day is simply a day off for barbque and celebrate nothing in particular.

But, it's America. It's the right of black and white folks to celebrate, or NOT celebrate, what they want.

And that's what I like about America, the right not to be concerned about anything.

Unionblue
 
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brass napoleon

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Many American blacks (and some white abolitionists) instead of celebrating July 4, celebrated August 1, "West Indian Emancipation Day", the day in 1834 that Britain abolished slavery in the West Indies and most of its empire. Here's an excerpt from a speech from another black abolitionist, William Howard Day, on August 1, 1844 in Ohio:

The West Indian emancipation presents us with a theme thrilling and inspiring. When the memory of Thermopylae and Marathon, of Bunker Hill and Yorktown shall be obliterated - when sages to write, and poets to sing their praises, shall have gone to the land of silence, then shall this victory of truth over error - of light over darkness, be handed down to generations still unborn. Let its memory live in every heart and be regarded as an oasis to encourage the philanthropist in his errand of mercy to a land in darkness.

But alas! turn your eyes homeward. We, as Americans, are in a far worse condition than the people of the West Indian Islands ever were. Here, man exercises tyranny over his fellow man, debases the image of his Maker, unjustly tasks the sinews of his brother and then, with his feet upon his neck, cries "liberty."

... I love my country, but never can I sacrifice the rights of man for a love of country. The truth must be told: our country is guilty - we are guilty, and slavery must be abolished soon, or we may prepare to suffer the consequences. We have long enough clung to the faint hope of a change; we have long enough listened to the frequent whisper, "Peace, be still", and now the call is for action. From the memorable rock of Plymouth, a beacon has been lighted by the fires of liberty. The irrevocable decree has gone forth from the Supreme Court of the universe - "Proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants thereof." If such were the sentiments of the pilgrim fathers, if such be the command of God, liberty we can, and liberty we must have. If "coming events cast their shadows before", who can prophesy that the decks of the Amistad and Creole are not the faint sketches of our future history. If a Cinque or a Washington shall hereafter rise, (which may God forbid) - if our land shall be deluged in blood - if your attention shall be directed to the Southern quarter by the roar of the booming cannon, and the shrieks of the wounded and dying - if devastation and ruin take the place of supposed peace - or if with the burning of villages they shall be enveloped in one common grave - you will be responsible. You have it in your power to avert it. The same means used for the abolition of Slavery in the West Indies, will avail now. Their efforts were few and feeble, but at last they conquered; and with the same well-directed efforts, with the same spirit, and with the dependence on the same God, we shall conquer.

- William Howard Day, August 1, 1844

Source: http://www.gospeltruth.net/oe/oe44/oep181.htm

[italics original; bold added]
It never ceases to amaze me how many people refuse to believe that these words, and the men who spoke them, didn't have an impact.
 
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ErnieMac

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Many American blacks (and some white abolitionists) instead of celebrating July 4, celebrated August 1, "West Indian Emancipation Day", the day in 1834 that Britain abolished slavery in the West Indies and most of its empire. Here's an excerpt from a speech from another black abolitionist, William Howard Day, on August 1, 1844 in Ohio:
I'd never heard of William Howard Day so I did a search for him. Day was 18 years of age when he made the cited speech. From what I've read his name is one that should be remembered more than it is.

Abstract: Born in New York City on October 16, 1925, William Howard Day was an editor, orator, and teacher best known for his historic role in Harrisburg as the first colored school director in the United States. He was the editor of several newspapers, including the Cleveland True Democrat, Aliened American, and Our Nation’s Progress. Day also worked to mobilize colored citizens in United States government activities, achieving great success in those efforts. He served on many influential government committees before passing away in Harrisburg on December 3, 1900.
http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Day__William_Howard.html
 
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JerseyBart

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Many American blacks (and some white abolitionists) instead of celebrating July 4, celebrated August 1, "West Indian Emancipation Day", the day in 1834 that Britain abolished slavery in the West Indies and most of its empire. Here's an excerpt from a speech from another black abolitionist, William Howard Day, on August 1, 1844 in Ohio:

The West Indian emancipation presents us with a theme thrilling and inspiring. When the memory of Thermopylae and Marathon, of Bunker Hill and Yorktown shall be obliterated - when sages to write, and poets to sing their praises, shall have gone to the land of silence, then shall this victory of truth over error - of light over darkness, be handed down to generations still unborn. Let its memory live in every heart and be regarded as an oasis to encourage the philanthropist in his errand of mercy to a land in darkness.

But alas! turn your eyes homeward. We, as Americans, are in a far worse condition than the people of the West Indian Islands ever were. Here, man exercises tyranny over his fellow man, debases the image of his Maker, unjustly tasks the sinews of his brother and then, with his feet upon his neck, cries "liberty."

... I love my country, but never can I sacrifice the rights of man for a love of country. The truth must be told: our country is guilty - we are guilty, and slavery must be abolished soon, or we may prepare to suffer the consequences. We have long enough clung to the faint hope of a change; we have long enough listened to the frequent whisper, "Peace, be still", and now the call is for action. From the memorable rock of Plymouth, a beacon has been lighted by the fires of liberty. The irrevocable decree has gone forth from the Supreme Court of the universe - "Proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants thereof." If such were the sentiments of the pilgrim fathers, if such be the command of God, liberty we can, and liberty we must have. If "coming events cast their shadows before", who can prophesy that the decks of the Amistad and Creole are not the faint sketches of our future history. If a Cinque or a Washington shall hereafter rise, (which may God forbid) - if our land shall be deluged in blood - if your attention shall be directed to the Southern quarter by the roar of the booming cannon, and the shrieks of the wounded and dying - if devastation and ruin take the place of supposed peace - or if with the burning of villages they shall be enveloped in one common grave - you will be responsible. You have it in your power to avert it. The same means used for the abolition of Slavery in the West Indies, will avail now. Their efforts were few and feeble, but at last they conquered; and with the same well-directed efforts, with the same spirit, and with the dependence on the same God, we shall conquer.

- William Howard Day, August 1, 1844

Source: http://www.gospeltruth.net/oe/oe44/oep181.htm

[italics original; bold added]
It never ceases to amaze me how many people refuse to believe that these words, and the men who spoke them, didn't have an impact.
Some African Americans celebrate West Indies Emancipation Day as well as or instead of The 4th of July. Some people celebrate a separate Confederate Memorial Day even though the country has a perfectly good Memorial Day to honor deceased soldiers. What is the world coming to?
 

brass napoleon

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I'd never heard of William Howard Day so I did a search for him. Day was 18 years of age when he made the cited speech. From what I've read his name is one that should be remembered more than it is.

Abstract: Born in New York City on October 16, 1925, William Howard Day was an editor, orator, and teacher best known for his historic role in Harrisburg as the first colored school director in the United States. He was the editor of several newspapers, including the Cleveland True Democrat, Aliened American, and Our Nation’s Progress. Day also worked to mobilize colored citizens in United States government activities, achieving great success in those efforts. He served on many influential government committees before passing away in Harrisburg on December 3, 1900.
http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Day__William_Howard.html
Yes, it's a real shame that history has forgotten most of the black abolitionists. But there were many of them. As much as the white abolitionists did to publicize the injustices of slavery, it was only the black abolitionists who could truly belie the slaveholder propaganda that "slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."
 
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Mark F. Jenkins

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Hm. True. Apart from Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, I couldn't have named another African-American abolitionist off the top of my head. :unsure:
 

Mark F. Jenkins

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Oh, I'd forgotten about Sojourner Truth. (Oddly, I was just thinking about her the other day when something reminded me of the Mars rover "Sojourner.")
 
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Bryan_C

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Yes, it's a real shame that history has forgotten most of the black abolitionists. But there were many of them. As much as the white abolitionists did to publicize the injustices of slavery, it was only the black abolitionists who could truly belie the slaveholder propaganda that "slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."
I've loved history all of my life and I can rmember being fascinated about it in elementary school. I grew up in Washington, DC and I learned about Frederick Douglass by the 3rd grade. We had the book shown below in my school. It has great one-page biographies for most of its subjects; though Martin Luther King, Jr. and Frederick Douglass got more than one page.

Anyway, I went to college in the Midwest and in a pre-Civil War class I was taking, one of the students asked, "Who was Frederick Douglass?" I was shocked. I could not believe that whatever history classes this guy took prior to our class, someone as significant as Douglass had been erased from the narrative. Very sad.

thCACZ224L.jpg
 

brass napoleon

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Here's another black abolitionist, Thomas deSaille Tucker, talking about the 4th of July. Interestingly he was born in Africa and came to the United States as a boy in the 1850s for an education. This is from a letter he wrote to a friend back in Africa while still attending school in the U.S.:

‘The colored men in this country have no voice in the general government; even in some of the States they have no voice in the State government. It would fairly sicken you to be here on a fourth of July and hear guns firing and “starspangled banner” waving “over the land of the free and the home of the brave” while there are this day 4,000,000 of slaves in their possession. O what a hypocrisy. God will not always sleep but will yet come in judgment against this country except they speedily repent.[4]

Source: http://www.oberlinheritagecenter.org/blog/2013/11/thomas-tucker-and-charles-jones-missionaries-from-africa/
He went on to become a teacher, lawyer, and ultimately the co-founder and first President of the school that today is known as Florida A&M University.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Couldn't you listen to James all day long and into next Thursday? OH my gosh. He spoils you for any other narrator- you REALLY have to get That Voice out of your head before you can enjoy anyone else.

LoC has amazing photos of some of the black abolitionists tucked away in their collection- you have to patiently page through all the collection until you bump into them. I never, ever feel like I'm ' good' enough with any of the important issues of the times to pull off threads on some of these subject matter so do not- not out of fearing to look foolish ( that ship has sailed ), out of not wishing to do such important subject the injustice of not treating them with respect. ( What a long sentence, not sure I pulled it off. ) There are amazing pictures of nice, normal citizens of the era who also happen to be African American- more proof of the vast differences in our society and how outrageous it must have been to them, the concept of slavery being SO accepted, much less still practiced.

We had a tribute to Sojourner a long time ago, but she was the kind of woman, requires bumping the thread or refreshing her memory with a new one every 'so'. As much as it takes to keep her alive for History and all of us.

There's that ONE photo, the blurb keeps telling us it's the ' only' known photo of a black ( Union.... ) soldier and his family. It's just weird- not sure that's true, although I have to say, photos of any soldier and their entire family are not exactly easily found. With their wife or sweetheart, sometimes just a child, yes- with their entire family? For some reason, not really. Don't anyone follow this up with 20 of them- that will prove they exist but bet it took an awfully long time to find them.
 
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The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro Full speech

 
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