Frederick Douglass' speech is one of the 5 or 10 greatest American public speeches (enslaved and escaped, Douglass was a brilliant writer and speaker). Here is one vivid paragraph: "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."
Ray Raphael offers some context for the Declaration of Independence: In 1997, Pauline Maier published American Scripture, where she uncovered 90 state and local "declarations of independence" that preceded the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The consequence of this historical tidbit is profound: Jefferson was not a lonely genius conjuring his notions from the ether; he was part of a nationwide political upheaval. Similarly, Raphael reports: [I]n 1774 common farmers and artisans from throughout Massachusetts rose up by the thousands and overthrew all British authority. In the small town of Worcester (only 300 voters), 4,622 militiamen from 37 surrounding communities lined both sides of Main Street and forced British-appointed officials to walk the gauntlet, hats in hand, reciting their recantations 30 times each so everyone could hear. There were no famous "leaders" for this event. The people elected representatives who served for one day only, the ultimate in term limits. "The body of the people" made decisions and the people decided that the old regime must fall.
Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - There was outcry in the community after a Frederick Douglass statue at the corner of Tracey and Alexander Streets was vandalized in December. But those behind the project still called for the incident to be a teaching moment, saying it's what Douglass would've wanted. Charles Milks and John Boedicker are charged with criminal mischief in the crime. At the time, they were students at St. John Fisher College. The college said Thursday they are no longer enrolled. The statue was part of a series commemorating the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass, a project run by the Re-energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass Committee.