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Column: Words of Douglass in 1852 still ring true on this July 4th

Column: Words of Douglass in 1852 still ring true on this July 4th

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Fireworks, barbecues, flags, and anthems. This is what most Americans expect each year on the Fourth of July.

We have grown accustomed to the pomp and circumstance of our patriotic celebrations. However, for many 2020 continues to present itself a bit differently. This year, Independence Day is met with difficulty and high tensions. This year, the day dawns on unfortunate dangers and unwelcomed truths. Protesters remain in the nation’s parks and streets while masks are now required.

As Americans, we trust that in 1776 when they drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence, our Founding Fathers had the perfect ideas for what a great country was to be. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Undoubtedly, America’s parents share some basic expectations for her children. They expect their children to live, have liberty, and pursue happiness. For too many, this expectation is a distant hope. As the case numbers rise and statistics worsen, parents’ concerns grow and their brows furrow.

Which case numbers? Which statistics? For our founding fathers and for mothers of America’s black sons, it doesn’t particularly matter.

“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity & independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me.”

These words were spoken in 1852 by Fredrick Douglass in his address to entitled, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Nevertheless, 244 anniversaries later, they still read current. This twin year has seemed to unearth twin pandemics.

For our founding fathers and for the mothers of America’s black sons, each table of data, today displays bleak. So (she) sets her table and prays, “God Bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her through THIS night with the light from above.”

Gabriel, a Catawba County native, is the pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Mooresville. He also works with Profound Gentlemen, a national nonprofit based in Charlotte to support male educators of color.

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