Frederick Douglass, by Samuel J. Miller, 1852, Daguerreotype. Art Institute of Chicago.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; February 1817 – February 20, 1895)

was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, gaining note for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings.

“What to the American Slave is Your 4th of July

In 1852 Frederick Douglass was invited by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society to give a speech commemorating the Fourth of July. On July 5, the crowds filling Corinthian Hall, Rochester, New York, did not get what they expected.



“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,” Douglass said, putting “Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens” in their place.

“What, to the American Slave, as read by Frederick Douglass’ grand children

​"Even if it makes others uncomfortable,

                                                                     Janelle Monáe, Q.U.E.E.N


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