Cancel Culture heavily plagues the 21st century as people take to social media and other outlets to express the need to cancel restaurants, businesses, holidays, and quite frankly anything that goes against the empowerment of black people. With the recent uplifting and emphasis placed on Juneteenth there has also been a call to cancel the 4th of July as it is not a holiday worth celebrating as an African American.
To begin we must acknowledge that the majority of the writers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners when they drafted the infamous words “that all men are created equal: that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In fact Thomas Jefferson owned around 600 slaves at the time of the Declaration.
The Declaration of Independence states that “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”
If all men were created equally why did slavery exist? The writers of the Declaration of Independence were hypocrites who declared freedom so to speak on July 4th, 1776, they just forgot to mention that their words weren't applicable to all men.
It is important to note that Thomas Jefferson attempted to include a passage in reference to slavery, however, it was declined as the issue was too controversial and would ignite a long debate. The delegates knew that the Declaration of Independence would lead to war with England so and they needed the support of all of the states, thus they didn’t want to cause chaos and division that would weaken their forces in the fight. This is an example of philosophers, legislators, delegates, etc. placing the need for social justice and equality on the back burner to further pursue their own selfish wants and “needs.” There are far too many documents and laws in the United States that were never meant to fully include African Americans.
The Declaration of Independence is a contradiction.
There is no equality in owning another person and forcing them into slavery. As history tells it even after the Declaration of Independence was passed African Americans were not treated equally.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln enacted the Emancipation Proclamation which made it so that “slaves within any state, or designated part of a state…in rebellion…shall then, thenceforward, be forever free.” Most people might be have been appeased by this movement, however, African American’s weren’t really free and there was an ulterior motive behind it.
Let’s put the years into prospective; All people were declared “equal" in 1776, yet slaves weren't freed until 1863.
87 years. That’s how long it took for slaves to be “freed” despite that everyone had previously been declared equal. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation was passed African Americans were not equal nor were they “free.”
The 13th amendment, implemented in 1865 officially abolished slavery. Despite this African Americans continued to fight for their rights which led to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s which led to great strides and achievements for African Americans.
After reading this if you are still wondering about the points that I made as to why we shouldn’t celebrate the 4th of July think about the current state of the country and how African Americans are fighting for equality and justice in cases of innocent lives being lost. We should not celebrate the day the Declaration of Independence was signed on because it didn’t include equality for African Americans. The Declaration of Independence should be interpreted to mean “all men, except for African Americans are created equally and have certain unalienable rights.”
For more insight I encourage you to read a speech given by Fredrick Douglas titled “What to the slave is the 4th of July?”
“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…” -Fredrick Douglas, July 5th, 1852