- Natasha Harris
with liberty And justice for all
On July 5, 1852, during a celebration of the 76th anniversary (July 4th) of the signing of the Declaration of Independence (although the declaration was officially signed August 2, 1852), Frederick Douglass had been asked to stand before a group of 600 white Americans and provide to them what independence and freedom meant to him. At a time when slavery was still legal and having only taken his journey to freedom 14 years earlier, Douglass highlighted what he viewed as the hypocrisy of two Americas: one celebrating freedom from British rule, yet enslaving Blacks.
"76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects...You were under the British Crown... Feeling themselves harshly and unjustly treated by the home government, your fathers, like men of honesty, and men of spirit, earnestly sought redress. They petitioned and remonstrated; they did so in a decorous, respectful, and loyal manner.... Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity." Having understood and experienced this oppression, yet enslaving other human beings didn't equate. Douglass went on to ask: “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 shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery"
While we have progressed beyond this period of enslavement and servility, the remnants have consistently plagued us as a nation. America has always been a work in progress and more recently we have been reminded that there is still much more work to be done. Typically we celebrate with beach days and barbecues, but let's take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made and understand that freedom, equality and equity take our collective effort. As a small business we understand this as the backbone of what we do. Our Independence does not mean that we are independent of each other, but that use our individual effort to make a collective difference.