Frederick Douglass’ independence day speech at Rochester

In this biting speech, abolitionist leader and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) shines a spotlight on American hypocrisy, contrasting the principles of freedom celebrated on Independence Day with the oppression suffered by slaves. During the 19th century, it was customary for American towns to celebrate the Fourth of July with a ceremonial reading of the Declaration of Independence, followed by a speech celebrating the accomplishments of the founding fathers. In 1852 in Rochester, New York, Douglass delivered a decidedly unconventional Independence Day address. "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" Douglass asked. "I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license…" The speech, translated to Persian by Tavaana, became widely known as perhaps the greatest anti-slavery oration in American history.

Tavaana Publication   Click here to read Tavaana's exclusive translation of Frederick Douglass's Independence Day Speech at Rochester.

 

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