Blacks and the Fourth of July

Today America celebrates the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding fathers separating from England. July 4, 1776 is a day that has been celebrated by all Americans, but it time to really talk about what the fourth of July means to Black America? The fourth of July should mean absolutely nothing. Why celebrate a holiday that did not bring freedom to black America? We where still slaves, many of the run away slaves actually fought on the side of the British in the hopes that if the British won blacks would be free. However, as we all know the British lost the war and white America got to write the history books, and blacks would remain enslaved till the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, it could be argued that blacks did not truly get our freedom till the passage of the 13th and 14th amendments, so maybe blacks should celebrate July 9, considering the 14th amendment passed on July 9, 1868. Furthermore, maybe that date does not work either for blacks considering we had to wait till 1964, to truly have the right to vote. But did the Voting Rights Act make us truly free, especially when it expired a few years ago? Have blacks truly ever been free in America? That is a tough question to answer, the quick answer and the most diplomatic answer to the question is yes.

“Have blacks truly ever been free in America?”

If we dig deeper into America history, we would discover the ugly truth is no blacks have never truly been free in America. Whether is the Supreme Court ruling of Plessey V. Ferguson in 1896, to the destruction of black communities in the 1950s for freeways, and interstates which helped white flight out of the cities, to the FBI Cointelpro program against black organizations (especially the Black Panthers) in the 1960s and 70s. The list goes on to more modern issues, from the mass incarceration of black males, to the killing of blacks by the police. If blacks were truly free there would be no need for a Black Lives Matter Movement, Angela Davis recently stated, “If every live mattered there would be no need for black lives matter.” The fact is black lives have not matter to most Americans since America was founded in 1776. So I’m calling for Black America to stop celebrating this holiday that technically does not apply to us. Here are my top ten days black Americans should celebrate instead, I’m not including Martin Luther King, because we already celebrate that day.

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10. November 11th

The death of Nate Turner happened on November 11, 1831, Turner led one of the most famous slave rebellions, the movie, Birth of Nation later this year will tell his story.

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9. March 10

March 10, 1913 is the day Harriet Tubman died, Harriet Tubman known as Moses freed hundreds of slaves after escaping slavery herself. She is credited with freeing over 700 slaves, and was also part of the women suffrage movement. While we should celebrate her birth, due to lack of record kept on slaves since they were property, we do not know her exact birth. So her death should be a holiday.

8. July 16 

July 16, 1947 was the birth of a civil rights icon, Assata Shakur, Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and later joined the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and was a key figurer when it came to blacks fighting for their independence, and civil rights which has been withheld by the American government. She would later be shot during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, and later charged with the murder of a New Jersey state troop, even though all the evidence points that she could not be the shooter. Assata is know as, “”revolutionary mother hen” by the FBI. She would later escape prison in November of 1979, and fled to Cuba, she is now the first women to make the FBI Most Wanted Terrorist list in 2013. She is a key figurer today on why blacks could never fully feel free in America, all the evidence points to her not being the shooter, the evidence backs up her account of the story, but we still classify her as a terrorist in this country.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

7. January 17

January 17, 1942 is when the Greatest was born, Muhammad Ali, who polarized America in the 1960s and 1970s, first know as The Louisville Lip, he was something that boxing or the world had never seen, as he often predicted the round in which he would knockout his opponent, and than do it. Muhammad Ali sparked national debate when after defeating Sonny Liston, Muhammad announced that he had joined the Nation of Islam, and would change his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammad Ali. He was very outspoken against the racist policies of the U.S. government, and the need for black people to unite and have pride. His greatest battles where not in the ring but outside the ring. He became even more of American taboo, when he refused to accept induction into the Vietnam war, and stated, “Ain’t no Viet Cong called me nigger” he would be striped of the heavyweight title for three years, his conviction would be overturned, he became the first three-time heavyweight champion of the world. While he became loved by the world later in his career all the way up till his death this year. He will always be known as, “The People Champ” and he created a voice for the millions of blacks that had been voiceless.

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6. November 20

Shirley Chisholm was born November 20, 1924, she became the first African American women to serve in congress in 1969. She represented New York’s 12 district in the U.S. House, she served the people of New York for seven terms, and in 1972 became the first major party black candidate for President.

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 5. December 4

Fred Hampton, Sr. was killed on December 4, 1969, Hampton was only 21 at the time of his death. He was the chairman of the BPP in Chicago, and deputy chairman of the national BPP, he rose quickly through the ranks of the BPP, and because of that the FBI saw him as a real threat and kept tabs on all his activities. Along with the FBI the Cook county police Hampton’s apartment was raid and he was killed, being shot twice at point blank range. The lawsuit that followed his death led to the largest settlement for a civil rights case at that time 1.85 million dollars.

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4. July 2

The civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed to systemically end discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It was the hope that it would end racial segregation at school sand at workplaces, and government buildings. The fight of Stokley Carmichael, and Martin Luther King to get Lyndon Johnson to introduce the bill is well document in the HBO movie, All the Way.

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3. January 20

On January 20, 2009 most of black America can still remember where they were, it was on that day we witness Barack Obama sworn in as the President of the United States, a day that most blacks believed they would never see, a black President. With six months left on the job blacks have reveled in the last seven and half years, we finally had a President that looked like us.

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2.  May 19

While America already celebrates the birthdate of Martin Luther King in January, we do not celebrate or really recognize the birthdate of the other great civil right leader of the 1960s, Malcolm X, Malcolm X was born May 19, 1925. While King is recognized as the leader of the civil rights movement, King efforts were focused mainly on the south, however it was Malcolm X who focused more on the racism happening in the North. Malcolm once said, “if you are south of the Canada board you are in the south.” Malcolm X sometimes does not get the credit, because his black separation message, and for often telling blacks to stand up for themselves and not to turn the other cheek, and clashed with Martin’s nonviolent message. However, he is just as important as Martin when it comes to the civil rights movement in America.

1. June 19 

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.

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Rodney Fresh
Rodney Fresh

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.” –Muhammad Ali

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