delivered countless speeches concerning the plight of African-Americans. With honesty and clarity, Douglass spoke from the point of view of a former slave. And through his speeches, narratives and editorials in the North Star, Douglass persuaded others to believe that enslavement needed to be abolished.
One of Douglass’ most famous speeches, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” was delivered on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, NY.
In his speech, Douglass argues:
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 sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
Thoughtful, powerful and always honest, Douglass’ speech paved the way for the emancipation of slaves thirteen years later. Readers, how have Douglass’ words inspired you?