The descendants of abolitionist and anti-slavery and women’s rights activist Frederick Douglass read excerpts from one of his most famous speeches: “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Douglass gave this speech July 5, 1852 to a group of abolitionists at the historic Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. The Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society had invited Douglass to speak on the Fourth of July, but he declined because, as he explained to an audience of roughly 600 free, white people:
“The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine.”
NPR invited the descendants of Frederick Douglass to read “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” which is one of his most famous speeches. Watch Douglass’ descendants speak his words which still resonate today.
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