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OPINION | BY NEHEMIAH D FRANK
On July 5, 1852, a gentlemen by the name of Frederick Douglass, an African-American who was deemed criminal for running away from his horrific white master, gave a bold and profound speech of the American Independence paradox. The speech was entitled
“What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”
Nevertheless, Africans were living in America under the institution of legalized slavery shackled with chains around their ankles and wrist and yolks of iron around their neck at the bottom of airless slave ships all while lying in urination, fecal matter, and vomit through the middle passage (i.e. trans-Atlantic Slave route). They toiled in fields, were eaten alive by mosquitoes while picking rice and in snake infested waters dying by the thousands with malaria; their little girls ripped from their mothers and fathers arms forced to sleep in beds with grown ass white man who sexually molested and legally raped them because it was their legal right to rape their own property.
African American citizenships became complex the day the war broke out, British soldiers promised enslaved Africans their freedom if they fought for the British army and many did.
In fact, the majority of enslaved Africans who fought in the American Revolutionary War fault against American independence!
Notably, there was a small amount of free Africans who fought on the side of the Continental Army as well; however, those battles occurred north of the Mason-Dixon line – the line that separates free states from slave states.
Crispus Attucks was the first man to die for American independence, and he was a black man, and still, slavery persisted.
For as much as America would do just about anything to leave slavery and its horrible injustices against the native Americans in the past, the truth shall always remain in the minds of those whose hearts beat for every horrible monstrous thing their ancestors ever encountered. And for those who believe in the African proverb of Sankofa, which says “to move forward you must look back on your past.” They will be here to remind American’s of this great American paradox of the celebration of its Declaration of Independence.
Let America not forget that the African-American day of independence came with the cost of white and black lives fighting against white lives with the end goal of dismantling slavery and saving the union – the Civil War.
Finally, the Fourth of July is the celebration of white American liberation. When African-Americans were liberated on the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln and after the Civil War, white Americans didn’t celebrate and they still don’t Juneteenth today. Instead, they were terrified that we would attack them for their sins of legal and institutionalized slavery.