“Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are today rendered more intolerable by the jubilant shouts that reach them.
If I do forget, if I do not remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!”
To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.
Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? That he is the rightful owner of his own body?
You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery?
Is that a question for republicans? Is it to be settled by the rules of logic and argumentation, as a matter beset with great difficulty, involving a doubtful application of the principle of justice, hard to understand?
What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of 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 mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, 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…”
-Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is Fourth of July?”
January 11th is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the US. Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery. From Jan 1st-11th, we’ll be posting daily blogs with inspiration from the history of the movement to end slavery. Our resolution is to protect & defend the vulnerable and to restore & empower survivors. Join us in beginning 2012 by pausing to recharge our spirits as we carry on towards the end of slavery and the sexual exploitation of children.