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Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”

In July 1852 in Rochester, New York, Frederick Douglass asked one simple but powerful question to an audience of 500 people, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Douglass had been invited to speak at the event to discuss what the fourth of July meant to African-Americans. Well, he let the audience know.

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? 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; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2012 Democratic National Convention speech

At the 2012 DNC First Lady Michelle Obama gave a fiery, heartfelt speech fighting for the re-election of President Barack Obama – and too many, FLOTUS’ speech propelled many to stand by her husband.

10 Speeches That Shifted Society  was originally published on

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