Wednesday, July 4, 2007

what to the slave is the fourth of july?

the north star blog name has many origins: the desire of tns bloggers to authentically embody the principles of light and truth, our shared conviction that writing and dialogue are essential to resistance and freedom, and the creative brilliance of BJB blogger, brittani, who suggested the name.

our blog name also exists in tribute to the legacy of Frederick Douglass and the abolitionist newspaper he founded, The North Star.

in rochester, new york in 1841, Frederick Douglass delivered an Independence Day address best known as "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" 166 years later, we share the text from his speech, as people of color living in a nation at war globally and internally, and on a day that is intended to celebrate the destruction of oppression and the restoration of the dignity and autonomy of free peoples.

in the spirit of Douglass, we offer this speech as a call to action that remains not only relevant but absolutely imperative.

"...Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, 'may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!' To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery the great sin and shame of America..."

you can read more of Frederick Douglass' speech here. this excerpt is from:

The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, Volume II
Pre-Civil War Decade 1850-1860
Philip S. Foner
International Publishers Co., Inc., New York, 1950


Melay said...


XambedkarX said...

It takes a nation of millions to hold us back.

Geo Wyeth said...

Amazing. I've never read this before. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...


(I apologize in advance to Naima for not commenting on a well written post.)

With summer well underway, I don't have much time to check out the North Star these days. But, considering the recent Supreme Court decision regarding the use of race in school desegregation, and considering how clearly incorrect and unjust the court's finding, I am astonished that BJB has not commented on this at all. This is arguably one of the greatest injustices the court has created against minorities in recent history, particularly against the black race. It is alarming that a blog whose namesake is the very ideal of the court would be silent on such an issue. See below if you haven't read the news.

Considering my hectic summer schedule, I understand the time constraints each person has. Nevertheless, something must be said on such an injustice so clear. If no one has time to write, I don't mind taking a few moments over the next couple of days to write a brief piece on how unjust and incorrect the decision was and how the court used the 14th amendment to reinstate and perpetuate inequality, rather than equality. If my work isn't need, however, then I would implore BJB to speak out in some fashion and give merit to its name.



Camille said...

Joel--not to be curt, but if you'll take over my two jobs and make sure my rent gets paid, I'll promise to write more. In the meantime, there's a good deal of pretty straightforward information here.

Honestly, I wanted to find time to write about this, but didn't know where to begin. The news really speaks for itself.

Joshua said...

One of the things The North Star never wanted to be was the Black version of Pong, moving side to side bluntly responding to each injustice that happens to our diaspora and the world that it lives in. It's not that we do not want to do this; we simply cannot in today's world.

Instead, our goal really lives on the side of the game developers, not the world of paddles, balls, and blocks. We want to recruit more developers while sharpening our own skills. Hitting back as fast we can doesn't matter if the system is broken. We are trying to create a whole new game, a new discourse. This way we can address a variety of issues, especially ones that the mainstream media will not cover since white bias goes far beyond the color of missing babies on TV.

I think it's great you want to contribute, and we have our e-mail address on the site for a reason. TNS will read any pieces sent to us and decide whether or not to post them. Also, that'd be a great way to alert us to something you think we should be writing about, if you choose to do that in the future.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, Josh. Intersting comment regarding the purpose of the blog - I'll keep that in mind.

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