The Meaning of July Fourth
for the Negro
In the last Snippets, we asked readers for their opinion of Frederick Douglass’s famous “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” speech. Here are two of the most concise replies:
We are in a ticklish spot. We've got to move on and take places in the full mainstream of U.S. society. But we forget our past at our peoples' peril. We must hear and remember Frederick Douglas' words because of their great importance and the great risks he took in saying them. He is one of our greatest men.
Jersey City, NJ
The poignant speech delivered by statesman Frederick Douglass was about the state of affairs he saw in his nation at that time, and unfortunately, for the most part, almost 157 years later, it still rings true regardless of who sits in the White House today. The Fourth of July, in my interpretation, is a convenient day in the middle of the summer to take advantage of to travel, be with family and friends, and overindulge in eating bar-b-que and watermelon. I've always felt, the red, white, and blue decorations, the fireworks, the pompous parades and bands playing ?Yankee Doodle? and ?Star and Stripes Forever?, while festive, did not reflect or celebrate my experience of liberty and independence or that of my ancestors. Others Negroes will do as they please, but I've never felt it included me.
Norman Wesley West
Summer Reading: Children’s Books
Let Me Play ($16.95, Sleeping Bear Press)
A great story about a non-fictional all-Black little league team and it struggle to it found when trying to compete with White teams on the diamond. Great pictures.
Autisum and Me: Sibling Stories ($16.99, Albert Whitman & Company)
A series of great short stories about autism from the brothers and sisters with autisic siblings.
Jim Limber Davis: A Black Orphan in the Confederate White House (Pelican Press, $17.95 )
OK, is this believable? Did Jefferson Davis really adopt a Black child?
An African American Alphabet D is for Drinking Gourd ($17.95, Sleeping Bear Press)
A somewhat boring story whose story line seems to complex and to history-laden for those just learning their ABC’s.
Riding to Washington ($17.95, Sleeping Bear Press)
Why are so many books for Black children historical accounts? Don’t our children like books about the environment, technology, the unseen? Of course, this book is about the great March on Washington.