Should African-Americans Celebrate July 4th?

African-Americans were slaves during the signing of The Declaration of Independence. So, should people of African descent in this country celebrate the Fourth of July?

While many Americans, no matter their racial or ethnic background, see July 4th as a patriotic time of fireworks and barbecues, some in the African-American community do not believe in celebrating the holiday.

This is because the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence—on July 4, 1776—and many people of African descent were slaves during that time.

On one Facebook page of The Black Report, a conversation has continued for more than a year on the question of black Americans celebrating the 4th.

"As long as you claim to be an american citizen, african or otherwise you should celebrate the nation's independence," a man named Eardley wrote. "Also not all black people in our country now are decendents of american slaves."

A woman named India had a different view. She said she does not celebrate July 4th or Thanksgiving because of the wars between Native Americans and Europeans which eventually resulted in the creation of the United State of America.

"...what does July 4th fourth mean to you?" she wrote. "It means nothing to me, I'll celebrate Juneteenth along with many other African Americans here and around the world."

The debate over this holiday doesn't end here. Popular WAOK-1380 AM Radio personality Derrick Boazman discussed the topic and read passages from Frederick Douglass' "What, to the American Slave, is Your 4th of July?" (See www.juneteenth.us to read the entire speech and learn more about The National Juneteenth Network).

And, on Twitter, tweeps retweeted "Why the 4th of July belongs to all of us," by Atlanta writer Ronda Racha Penrice for The Grio website.

So, once again, we have another July 4th. Should African-Americans celebrate this holiday? What do you think? Share your views today on Cascade Patch.

Diane Hawkins-Cox July 04, 2011 at 04:31 PM
If you are an American, you should celebrate the independence of the United States. This country is not perfect, but I can't think of another place I'd rather live.
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:04 PM
first, I am a black man, seen a lot I am over 26 Yrs of Military. I have seen a Lot ! all of My Family & I, over the years have faced racism Directly or indirect! in the north, Chicago as a child i saw things, teen years faced KKK while living in the Englewood area 1969 -1977 High school Gage park 1973-1977, The south from Miss, Ala, GA, and FL.. Let it be no mistake because i am in the military i am in No-way brain-washed, CONT:
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:05 PM
CONT: it will always be someone / some group trying to divide The US and try to create infractions on the mind and hearts of others. Especially in the mind of the weak!! This happens all over the world! The U.S. has came along way from ignorance with-in certain groups between 1700 - 2011 So Please get this right! when you question patriotic holidays No! matter your Race, CONT:
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:09 PM
CONT: Do you know if your ancestors played a role behind the scenes, during wording of the Declaration it was not all Anglo-Saxon, Anglos were one of Germanic peoples / White Protestant culture of Britain, Australia, some did settled in the US for reasons of The declaration the Declaration justified the independence of the United States, listing colonial grievances against King George III, CONT:
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:12 PM
CONT: by asserting certain natural and legal rights, including Right of revolution. Having served its original purpose in announcing independence, Text of the Declaration was initially ignored after the American Revolution. Its stature grew over the years, particularly the 2ND Sentence, CONT:
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:13 PM
CONT:The sweeping statement of human rights: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.! This sentence is called "one of the best-known sentences in the English language" and "the most potent and consequential words in American history". The passage has often been used to promote the rights of marginalized groups, and came to represent for many people a moral standard for which the United States should strive. This view was greatly influenced by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy and promoted the idea that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted. During the freeing of the slaves to now groups have tried to change that and stop that sentence from being global. Remember all blacks were not slaves Blacks had slaves and sold blacks for slavery .
willie July 04, 2011 at 05:18 PM
CONT: READ MORE LEARN MORE but yes you should celebrate.. you should celebrate any change with consideration.. But hay people don't want to even honor Jesus. and trust me there was some people with the hearts of Jesus at that signing. There is good and bad in every person, Place and thing. Think about.it!!
Milton Browning July 04, 2011 at 10:19 PM
I am a Black American and I don't get any argument over not wanting to celebrate the July 4th holiday. Our ancestors, grandfathers, fathers, etc. invested so much into this country during slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and today because it is OUR country just as much as it is anyone else’s. And yes there is a litany of things still wrong with this nation; I hope we continue to solve the issues we still face today. I am proud to be an American so I will celebrate this holiday with PRIDE. For those who feel oppressed in this year, 2011, they can scrape and save to move to another country, as many do who immigrate here. My family has been here since the late 1700s, I have nothing culturally or historically in common with the Africans on the continent; don’t even know which country/culture I would subscribe to. Of course I make no excuses for slavery, it was wrong, point blank, especially for the Black Americans who owned slaves in this country. However, when I celebrate this holiday, I do so to celebrate the great strides this country has made as a whole and that includes the strides those of my own race have made and continue to make. And as a side note, since I have to be an African American I have been calling whites European Americans. If I can’t be referred to as an AMERICAN, I don’t see why they should. The 4th where we can all be Americans, with no special racial designation, will be an especially nice holiday, remember to believe in change…
Sonia Sanchez July 04, 2011 at 10:59 PM
@Milton our ancestors had no choice they did not invest their sweat and blood into this country voluntarily. Also what about the african culture that has depleted with slavery like you said we are african americans but with a little glimpse of our real culture. The african americans now especially in the hood just made up a culture along the way. What happen to the old fashion values that people had long time ago. Which is why the black community is crumbling little by little everyday. Sure we can celebrate today but what about the issues that occurs in the black community that still exist after today. Not many americans care about the black community but yet we are programmed to believe that we have to celebrate 4th of july because we are americans we had to fight for rights and acknowledgement. So are we celebrating 4th of July because we were forced to be americans or because we had to fight to become americans?
Glen McDaniel July 05, 2011 at 03:20 AM
11:16pm on Monday, July 4, 2011 On this day I am not one who extols the kick-ass-ism of America or parrot the half-truths of the new cult of Exceptionalism. Rather I look at a country with remarkable beginnings born out of a zest for freedom and equality. I revel in the fact that a country can stumble, recognize its errors and pledge not to repeat them. For example, it went from not recognizing blacks as full persons, to electing a black president years later. Women were denied the right to vote even as the constitution boldly stated "all men (persons) are created equal." We have always reached towards the altar of equality. Any casual student of history knows that we are not totally "there" yet, but America is phenomenal simply because it is a country still in a state of "becoming." I salute and ponder the ideas it stands for and pledge to do everything I can to help it live out the full extent of its ideals; to become its best-self. Happy Independence Day to everyone.
willie July 05, 2011 at 01:31 PM
@Sonia Shanchez. You need to read the simpson note again..carfully . And milton didn't say he didn't care about the issues in the black community. I am aware and sure Milton is also, that blacks had to fight for rights and acknowledgement. But I have a problem with you saying WE! your name is Sanchez.. is that your married name, are you Afro- American. Whos future, or what culture are you trying to perserve
ADRIAN HARRIS September 27, 2011 at 02:52 AM
Ev July 04, 2012 at 10:35 AM
God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.  But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. Genesis 15:13-14.
T. Young July 04, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Until middle America celebrate June 19th I. Don't consider this countries independence OURS! I'm a 40 year old decendent of slavery. We are so desperate for hope that we will accept a mixed president raised by his white family as our first African American president. I'm not settling. I want this country to accept the existence of African slave decedents. I may be a minority in my thinking, but I'm used to being the minority.
Kenneth Wallace July 04, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Willie, I disagree. On July 4, 1776, the overwhelming majority of African-Americans in this country were chattel slaves. The truth of the matter is that July 4, 1776, marked the independence of the white man in America. Although your claim that African-Americans owned slaves is true, they made up a very small percentage of slave owners. In many instances blacks who managed to attain their freedom, bought their relatives to rescue them from their terrible bondage. Anyway, you even mentioning that blacks owned slaves in this argument is typical of the slave mindset that persists within the African-American community. The argument itself is rather basic if you are a conscientious African American:here is mine. On July 4, 1776, my ancestors worked from sun-up to sundown with-out wages. Was this independence? On July 4, 1776, my ancestors were whipped bloody, maimed, branded or even murdered. Was this independence? On July 4, 1776, my ancestors families were broken, split and torn asunder; with no hope of seeing each other again. Was this their independence day? On July 4, 1776, some African- Americans' great-great-great-great grandmother was raped and shamed. I ask you Willie and others like you, was this their independence day? Therefore I cast my lot with the great Frederick Douglass; To What Does the 4th of July Mean To a Slave?
Kenneth Wallace July 04, 2012 at 10:52 PM
It is really a tragedy that so many black brothers and sisters are this brainwashed. Since when did stealing land from indigenous people(Native Americans), then using slaves(African-Americans) to work the land, equate to a zest for freedom and equality? And how can you with a black face mouth the words that America has always reached towards the altar of equality. One-hundred years after July 4, 1776, freed slaves faced blatant terrorism, especially in the south, in the form of lynchings and burnings. After World Wars One and Two, thousands of black soldiers returned to America and attempted to reach towards the altar of equality. Yet, hundreds were murdered for simply seeking to live out the democracy they were supposedly fighting for on foreign soil. I agree with you on one point, America is phenomenal because it can produce black people like Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain and Glen McDaniel.
TomThumb February 01, 2013 at 10:13 PM
The question was should African Americans celebrate the 4th of July. I, a Caucasoid-American, say no. I am of the Frederick Douglas camp. Picture this, Thomas Jefferson on his way back home for the first time, soon after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, turned his horse into the driveway at Monticello and found his slaves lining both sides waving sparklers, shooting off firecrackers, and hollering massuh is free! Massuh is free! Jefferson would have known better, and would wonder today why anyone celebrates the 4th of July? If the “declaration” made it so, then King George III would have ended the war with the insurgents as soon as he got wind of the declaration (sailing ships you know). The actual independence of the 13 United Colonies came when Great Britain recognized them as the United States, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris September 3, 1783. For people born here (and currently living), I suggest you celebrate your independence on your birthday—you were born free. The sad reality is, money defines freedom, the more one has the freer one is—the slaves here had none.
Cynthia Cornelius July 04, 2013 at 08:38 AM
I will take this day to research the many unsung African Americans that contributed to the building of this country. http://www.computerhealth.org/ebook/1776post.htm, http://www.newsmax.com/dralvedacking/african-americans-independence-day-contributions/2013/07/04/id/513352.
Dale Donovan July 04, 2013 at 04:28 PM
People! Please let go of the hatred your hearts. The independence was to be free of England, and yes, there were a lot of slavery, but there was also about 20 percent of the Blacks that were free. I digress, every country has it's bad history, but America at least tried to make itself a better nation for all. We all participate in its freedoms to be free to pursue a good life. Hate only perpetuate the hate and therefore no progress in relations with the people we live with. We are a melting pot and had better recognize that soon for the sake of our sanity and the strength of this nation. I mean, where else do we want to live? Cultures change over time, countries change, and people change. Let us change for the betterment of mankind. Enough already...


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