At noon on Friday, June 24 at the Newton Centre Green (Langley Road and Centre Streets), Historic Newton will host a communal reading of Frederick Douglass's fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.” Elected officials, teachers, students, and community activists will each read a section of the speech.
The themes of Douglass’ speech seem particularly relevant right now, as protests against racism led by Black Lives Matter and other groups have galvanized college campuses and communities around the nation.
On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, begged the race question at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. "Fellow-citizens," he began, "why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?"
Historic Newton joins Mass Humanities, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Community Change Inc., Boston African American National Historic Site, the New Bedford Historical Society, and others, in this statewide effort coordinated and funded by Mass Humanities. The text of this speech, as well as accompanying materials are available online at the Mass Humanities website, www.masshumanities.org.
This effort is partially funded by a We the People grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Historic Newton operates the Jackson Homestead and Museum, a stop on the Underground Railroad, and frequently sponsors Civil Rights discussions. For more information, please contact Historic Newton, 617-796-1450.
Can't attend? Stream it here!