What to the Slave is the 4th of July? (Friday, November 15)

Frederick Douglass, perhaps the most famous abolitionist – an escaped slave who was so educated that many people doubted he was ever a slave – delivered a fiery speech in Rochester, NY on July 5, 1854 (which we took a look at today in class). Entitled “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?,” Douglass breaks from the time-honored tradition of praising America on the 4th of July and instead calls out the hypocrisy of a nation that insists it stands for human equality and natural rights yet holds over 4 million Africans in bondage.

We conducted a close-read of the text – examining not only the content of the speech but the way that Douglass structures his speech. Some questions to help you conduct the analysis are attached to the speech. If you were absent, please download this file, read the speech, and then go back and re-read the speech to conduct the analysis.

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