Andrea A. Lunsford

What to the Slave is the 4th of July?

Blog Post created by Andrea A. Lunsford Expert on Jul 7, 2016

I am writing this post on July 4, shortly after writing to the class called Writing and Acting for Change that I am team-teaching at Vermont’s Bread Loaf School of English.  Though it’s a national holiday, Bread Loaf classes meet on the 4th, and though I am not on campus physically right now I am in touch with the class through e-mail, Twitter, and our private class blog.

Happy 4th of July to all.  I'm about to re-read, as I do every year this time, Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?"  Or I may listen to James Earl Jones reading it.


When I got up this morning, a student in the class had added a similar but much more eloquent post:

"I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs."

- Frederick Douglass

For the last few years I have made it my tradition to read this piece on the 4th of July. I am in awe of Frederick Douglass and his rhetoric-- what an incredible example of writing and ACTING for change. Would anyone want to read this together out loud at some point today? Perhaps after class? I find the above quote particularly powerful and relevant in an era of hashtag activism and "Pray for Orlando" &"Pray for Paris" Facebook filters. A good reminder of the need for embodied action.


A good reminder of the need for embodied action indeed.  In our class, we are reminding ourselves every day that we must go beyond talk to ACT if we intend to create any real change.  Thanks to Frederick Douglass for providing a brilliant example and for giving us food for thought on every 4th of July.

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[Image: Frederick Douglass, by Political Graveyard on Flickr]