Opinion, Siskiyou

The Real 4th of July

We celebrate July 4th because it was the day that the Continental Congress finally approved all the changes and edits to the July 2nd draft Declaration of Independence. Officially, the Continental Congress declared its freedom from Great Britain on July 2, 1776, when it voted to approve a resolution of independence submitted by delegate Richard Henry Lee of Virginia (constitutioncenter.org). 

On June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee read a resolution before the Continental Congress stating that these “United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States …. “. A Committee of Five was appointed to draft the Declaration of Independence. Specifically, Thomas Jefferson drafted it and Adams and Franklin made changes to it (wikipedia.org). 

On July 2, 1776, the Lee resolution was adopted by 12 of the 13 colonies. Congress discussed the Declaration document, made some alterations and deletions to it. On July 4, the Declaration was officially adopted. Most of the members of the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence document on August 2, 1776 (constitutioncenter.org). 

Since 1526, in European controlled North America, only white men were endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These rights did not apply to slaves, indigenous peoples and free Blacks. 

On July 5, 1852, Fredrick Douglas, a former slave, gave a talk in Rochester, New York where he reminded white Americans of the millions of men and women who have suffered in absolute bondage by saying: 

“What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license, your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloodier, than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.” (blackpast.org)

Where are we at today? Real democracy has been attempted in this country only since 1964, when after a bloody and deadly 10-year long struggle by Black Americans, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

In his 1845 autobiography, Fredrick Douglas wrote: “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Fredrick Douglas). 

White America must prove to its Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian and LGBTQ citizens that the Declaration of Independence was not a lie. Other than ending slavery, have we really changed since 1776?   


  1. The Native American

    In the topic of race and progress,

    people need to read and learn of the works of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke and what the idealization of a country/nation was for them: This is where the founding fathers took a lot from in creation of the constitution/bill of rights after the mess the articles of confederation left and exposed (Daniel Shay).

    If we go back in the era of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, we can easily spot similarities as well. One sought the approval/affirmation of Whites (if we think approval of the establishment/aristocracy) while the other wanted a systematic/dismantling approach in the sense of Education through acts of aggression and protests: These scholars caused divisiveness among Black and African Americans in the U.S. To this day, Black Americans deny their African Ancestry as well because we will never understand what it truly means/is to be a black person living in the U.S. . One could only imagine what people go through (the colored lens) and that’s about it (understatement).

    It doesn’t help when progress is hindered and further divisiveness is caused by those at “the top of the racial/social class” by publishing works like Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race, which undoubtedly fueled The Johnson Reed Act of 1924 and Racial Integrity Law of 1925 (one drop rule). Hitler even used this work as his bible, thus leading to the Holocaust. I could only imagine that Grant published his “masterpiece” because if people below a social and economic standing united and worked together for once, that the futility of Aristocracy and the Establishment would be exposed. I guess we’ve made some progress since?! I don’t know anymore.

    We can’t keep taking 5 steps forward, and 1000 steps back! What are you so afraid of, America?

    For now, 4th of July is just another barbecue and social gossiping event with added respect to those who served and protected the land.

  2. The Native American

    Now that this day has arrived, and as for the topic of “Celebrating 4th of July”, I will leave this passage from “The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”:

    “He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

    It’s good to know that my ancestors and myself are “merciless savages”! Let me go put on my red, white, and blue uniform and buy those fancy sparklers and set up the grill! Go U.S.A!! /s.

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