Here’s a little Fourth of July Critical Race and Labor History for you: On July 2, 1777 , Vermont became the first colony to abolish slavery when it ratified its first constitution and became a sovereign country, a status it maintained until its admittance to the union in 1791 as the 14th state in the United States. However, Harvey Amani Whitfield , author of The Problem of Slavery in Early Vermont, 1777-1810, writes that slavery in Vermont was gradually phased out over a period of multiple decades. Additionally, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) staff write in “Vermont 1777: Early Steps Against Slavery ” that even though “Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut abolitionists achieved laudable goals, each state created legal strictures making it difficult for ‘free’ blacks to find work, own property or even remain in the state” and that Vermont’s 1777 constitution’s “wording was vague enough to let Vermont’s already-established slavery practices continue.”
Fourth of July
As a great protest against this U.S. offensive at the global level, the Network in Defense of Humanity-Cuba (REDH) joins the initiative launched on June 15 in Moscow, to celebrate the first International Day of Independence from U.S. Influence this July 4, 2023. This call is part of the great international project “Get out of the American Sector”, and it is necessary that it responds in turn to the need for international counter-hegemonic, anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist articulation. A recent study shows that the United States has launched nearly 400 military interventions since its independence in 1776, half of these have been carried out between 1950 and 2019.
As fireworks boom and politicians solemnize Independence Day, the United States betrays the freedom of people around the world. The 4th of July is a strange spectacle: In Washington, D.C., patriots wave American flags at a parade even as the U.S. approves Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara, helping to crush the Sahrawi people’s hope for independence. Take your pick: Rwanda to Bahrain, Israel to Morocco; the U.S. is the boss of an international ring of client states that crush dissent. It has flooded dictatorships and settler-colonial regimes with military weapons and drone bombed the hell out of innocent people in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia.
Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us? I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us.
Friday marks the third day of protests over the Akron police shooting death of 25-year-old Jayland Walker, an Akron DoorDash driver who was killed by multiple shots following a police chase on Monday. Previous protests were small, a couple dozen people. But as news of Walker's death spread across the city and national organizations like Black Lives Matter took note, today's protest downtown is expected to grow. Reporters and photographers from The Akron Beacon Journal will be reporting live from today's protest. Follow their reporting as it unfolds below.
D12 held an outdoor rally today in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., for Black liberation and the liberation of all oppressed people. Banners reading “Health care is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight!” lined the street. People gathered in front of Sistas’ Place at Frederick Douglass Square. D12 members renamed the corners of two streets named after slave owners—Jefferson and Nostrand—for Douglass.
The U.S. isn’t young anymore. One can’t help but wonder what Fredrick Douglass would say if he were to give a speech on the country’s 245th birthday. The “great streams” of American racism, white supremacy and sexism have indeed worn deep. A full 169 years after Douglass’s speech, the U.S. is still bogged down by many of the same contradictions.
Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate — to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” — more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu. That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID- and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:
A labor strike is brewing in the NYPD. A pair of flyers making the rounds among NYPD officers are encouraging them to call out sick July 4 — as retribution for police reform and a perceived anti-cop climate following the outrage over high-profile police killings of unarmed black men across the country, multiple cops told The Post. One message calls for the strike to kick off at 3 p.m. July 4. “NYPD cops will strike on July 4th to let the city have their independence without cops,” the message, which is being passed among cops via text, according to sources. “Cops that say we can’t strike because of the Taylor Law,” the message reads, referencing a law that makes public worker stoppages punishable with fines and jail time.
The National Park Service will divert about $2.5 million in fees gathered from park-goers to help pay for the hefty costs of President Donald Trump’s Fourth of July celebration, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. The White House has been preparing for the president’s “Salute to America” on Thursday, a grand parade meant to showcase what Trump has called the “strongest and most advanced” military on the planet. Tanks have been shipped from Georgia, and a flyover by Air Force One is scheduled, as well as a promised “biggest ever” fireworks display, according to Trump. But such plans have reportedly stretched the event’s budget far past normal. The Post noted that the entire Independence Day celebration usually costs the National Park Service about $2 million, but the NPS was directed to divert park entrance and recreation fees to help cover some of the additional costs of this year’s event, according to two anonymous sources familiar with the planning.
“Putin’s America,” tweeted Anand Giridharadas, a pundit who was genetically engineered in a Monsanto laboratory to appeal to NPR listeners on every possible level. Giridharadas used these words yesterday to caption a short video clip of two tanks being carted through the streets of DC in preparation for their appearance in a parade for Independence Day, a holiday in which Americans gather to eat hot dogs and drink Mountain Dew in celebration of the anniversary of their lateral transfer from monarchy to corporatist oligarchy. The military hardware parade is taking place at the behest of President Bolton’s social media assistant Donald Trump, and critics have been vocally decrying it as alien and un-American. Pundits like Giridharadas and Steve Silberman have been saying it’s something Russia would do.
By Benjamin Naimark-Rowse for Political Violence at a Glance. There is much more to the story of the campaign for independence of the United States than the 56 people who signed the Declaration of Independence. There was a decade of resistance campaigns before 1776 that involved common people who have not shared historical recognition. In this period, women were key leaders but then war brought military men to the forefront. In fact, some say independence was won in that decade and the war was Great Britain’s effort to retake the colonies by force. Colonists used what today are considered classic tools of nonviolent resistance struggles. Founding Father, John Adams wrote that, “A history of military operations…is not a history of the American Revolution.” American Revolutionaries led not one, but three nonviolent resistance campaigns in the decade before the Revolutionary War. These campaigns were coordinated. They were primarily nonviolent. They helped politicize American society. And they allowed colonists to replace colonial political institutions with parallel institutions of self-government that help form the foundation of the democracy that we rely on today.
By Mike Ferner for War Is A Crime. A historically critical article about the American Revolution would typically discuss how the democratic promises of the Declaration were left hanging at war’s end, followed by a decidedly undemocratic constitution six years later. Examples of that would include abandoning ideals stated in the Declaration like: “all men (sic) are created equal” and have unassailable rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It could cite that: Slaves weren’t included in “We the People,” they were only the property of their owners. Because this human property, unlike a bale of cotton, could plan to run away, particular attention was paid to securing it. “A person (the indelicate word “slave” never appeared) held to service or labor in one state…escaping to another…shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.” ( IV, sec. 2) To appease Southerners interested in gaining the maximum number of seats in the new House of Representatives, the Fathers of Our Country declared, in writing, that these “other persons” would each count as three-fifths of a human. ( I, sec. 2) Women did not have the right to vote, nor did Catholics and Jews in some states. White, Protestant, men had to own qualifying amounts of property. Thus, only about 6% of the new nation’s population was eligible to vote in the first presidential election and only 3%, or 38,818 people actually did.
By Benjamin Naimark-Rowse for Political Violence @ A Glance. John Adams wrote that, “A history of military operations…is not a history of the American Revolution.” American Revolutionaries led not one, but three nonviolent resistance campaigns in the decade before the Revolutionary War. These campaigns were coordinated. They were primarily nonviolent. They helped politicize American society. And they allowed colonists to replace colonial political institutions with parallel institutions of self-government that help form the foundation of the democracy that we rely on today. During the decade leading up to the war, colonists articulated and debated political decisions in public assemblies. In so doing, they politicized society and strengthened their sense of a new political identity free from the British. They legislated policy, enforced rights, and even collected taxes. In so doing, they practiced self-governance outside of wartime. And they experienced the power of nonviolent political action across the broad stretches of land that were to become the United States of America. So on future Independence Days, let us celebrate our forefathers’ and mothers’ nonviolent resistance to British colonial rule.