In collaboration with Georgia State University’s Department of African-American Studies, the Auburn Avenue Research Library (AARL) hosted Dr. Grace D. Gipson, who presented on the topic This Fourth of July is Yours, not Mine? Understanding Frederick Douglass’ “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”.
In the shadow of America’s most revered holiday, Independence Day (2022), Dr. Gipson discusses the historical significance and contemporary relevance of Douglass’ July 5, 1852 speech, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Dr. Gipson use Douglass’ biting oratory as a lens to examine the ongoing structural underpinnings of systemic anti-black violence that continues to thwart freedom for Blacks in the United States.
See the presentation below:
I always appreciate the opportunity to annually collaborate with Auburn Avenue Research Library and discuss this poignant speech! It is a speech that we have to constantly refer to, so the conversations around freedom and justice do not go silent!!
Gotta love when you get to see history played out on the screen!! Considering what is and is not being taught in schools today and the resistance with CRT, it is refreshing to to see other outlets of learning! Which makes me happy to see what HBO is doing this year for Black History month!! This February, HBO documentary presents Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches where it will bring to life the words of one of our country’s most famous anti-slavery activists. It will feature the great talent of Nicole Beharie (Scenes from a Marriage), Colman Domingo (Euphoria), Jonathan Majors (Lovecraft Country), Denzel Whitaker (The Great Debaters) and Jeffrey Wright (Westworld) as they each draw from five of Douglass’ legendary speeches. The documentary will also feature narration of Douglass’ autobiographies by André Holland.
Additional contextualization of Douglass’ writings will come from scholars David Blight, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Sarah Lewis and Keidrick Roy, artist Bisa Butler, poet Nzadi Keita, as well as Douglass descendant Ken Morris who offer perspective on Douglass’ modern relevance and the unprecedented level of fame and influence to which he rose.
The five featured speeches are:
“I Have Come To Tell You Something About Slavery” (1841) performed by Denzel Whitaker. At an anti-slavery convention, Douglass recounts his story of being raised as a slave publicly for the first time.
“Country, Conscience, And The Anti-Slavery Cause” (1847) performed by Jonathan Majors. Douglass addresses the American Anti-Slavery Society on his return from the British Isles which he found to be more accepting and equitable than his own country.
“What, To The Slave, Is The Fourth Of July?” (1852) performed by Nicole Beharie. Douglass reminds his audience of the continuing enslavement of his people, 76 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
“The Proclamation And A Negro Army” (1863) performed by Colman Domingo. Douglass responds to the Emancipation Proclamation and calls for the Black man to be allowed to fight in the war.
“Lessons Of The Hour” (1894) performed by Jeffrey Wright. Douglass urges America to eliminate prejudice and look to its founding principles.
Frederick Douglass: In Five Speeches premieres on February 23rd at 9 pm/ET on HBO and HBO Max!!