What the 4th of July means to me

I’ve always enjoyed fireworks shows. I have great memories of family barbecues, music, dancing, fun, children and the grand finale of the sparkly light displays in the sky in all their glorious designs and colors.

As an African American, celebrating Independence Day didn’t seem to apply to me and my people. Jim Crow was still around in the 1950s when I was a little girl, and I could see the racism and differences in civil rights so clearly. Through the years as blacks fought and won rights for equality (voting, jobs and more), racism seemed to get worse. I got the impression early on that if racist whites could not enslave my people, they did not want to share this country with us and had no use for us. For blacks, the battle for rights continues. Today it is rampant and out of the closet where we see the hatred blatantly displayed in the media and against our black president.

So while most Americans celebrate the 4th of July for American independence (freedom) from Britain, it has not been a celebration for blacks, Native Americans and hispanics in the traditional sense. In spite of genocide, enslavement, disenfranchisement and crimes against our people, we have survived. That is a lot to be grateful for.

Yet, I still love the holiday and will always celebrate it in my own way…with family, friends, barbecues, outings, music…and enjoy the fireworks display as long as our city provides them. Whatever it means to you, I hope you enjoy it too!

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3 thoughts on “What the 4th of July means to me”

  1. In a separate post, I think Frederick Douglass expresses it best from a speech he gave in 1852. Every American should read it.

    For a dramatic reading…

    excerpts from Frederick Douglass’ speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” (July 5, 1852) read by James Earl Jones

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