Your DGB for today is to check out the Freedom on the Move collection from Cornell University. Both heartbreaking and inspiring, this is a curation of fugitive slave ads from North American publications. These are a bracing window into the ultimate resistance stories of enslaved people who ran.
Your DGB for today is to read Frederick Douglass’ famous speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July.”
On Independence Day every year, Americans celebrate the United States freedom from Great Britain and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
It’s important to note that the Declaration of Independence did not mean freedom for all. Our nation continued to enslave people for almost 100 years and that is why we ask you to read this speech today. http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/what-to-the-slave-is-the-fourth-of-july/
We continue to live in trying times that leave us questioning our patriotism and we ask that you continue to fight for the country that you want.
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?
“I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages…
No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck.”
Your DGB for today is to celebrate and learn about Juneteenth.
On this day in 1865, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was declared, freedom for enslaved people in Texas finally arrived when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued this statement:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
Little did he know that he would be creating the annual holiday to celebrate the emancipation from slavery.
What we want you to do today is to learn more about Juneteenth, first by reading The History of Juneteenth: http://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm and then by taking up a few other suggestions from the Juneteenth website, such as planning a special meal with your family, or discussing diversity initiatives at work. http://www.juneteenth.com/howtocelebrate.htm No matter how we choose to celebrate Juneteenth, it’s important that we know the history of this date and share it with others. Our country is once again going through a horrific period of human rights violations and we can’t learn from our past if we don’t even know it.
Your DGB for today is to take this short quiz on the history of slavery in the United States. We’re just warning you - unless you had an extraordinary history teacher or went out of your way to learn about it outside of class, you’re unlikely to score well. American slavery is not a subject well-covered in most classrooms, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Teaching Tolerance” project wants to change that. As they say, “[Most] students lack a basic knowledge of the important role it played in shaping the United States and the impact it continues to have on race relations in America.” We can’t really hope to dismantle white supremacy if we don’t fully understand our history.
After completing the quiz, you’ll be directed to resources for both students and teachers on how to fill in these knowledge gaps, including a report on the state of American education in this area and a suggested curriculum. We strongly encourage you to check out the section on primary sources from the era.
At DGB, we think it’s never too late to go back to school… unless it’s “mystery meat” day in the cafeteria. Okay, then - pack a brown bag lunch, sharpen your pencils, and open your test booklets to page one.