Earlier this week, members of Frederick Douglass’ family gathered together to read his Fourth of July speech on slavery amid nationwide protests.
In the video, which was released by NPR, the five descendants took turns reading lines from the iconic address that was originally delivered on July 5, 1852.
“Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice embodied in that Declaration of Independence extended to us?” Douglass Washington Morris II, who is 20 years old, read in the visual that was inspired by Jennifer Crandall’s documentary project titled “Whitman, Alabama.”
“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 sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery,” the group of five read in unison.
In addition to reciting Douglass’ words, the group also took a moment to reflect on the death of George Floyd, a Black man, who lost his life at the hands of police brutality in Minneapolis. Last month, four former officers – Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were charged for their involvement in the incident.
“While the Fourth of July probably does not feel the same to me as it does to others, I wouldn’t say that it has no meaning because it is the time when America the country became free from another country, but I would say that it’s not the time in which I gained my freedom,” Alexa Anne Watson said.
Take a look at the video below.