Pluralistic: 04 Jul 2020

Today's links

What to the Slave Is the 4th of July (permalink)

I'm not American. For the first half of my life, my touchstone for Jul 4 was the Schoolhouse Rock "Fireworks" segment that leaked over the border from Buffalo through Fox 29's UHF signal.

When it came to how Americans had observed Jul 4 through history, my impressions came from whitewashed pop culture like Disney's Carousel of Progress:

All that changed when I discovered Frederick Douglass's 1852 "What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?" – such a stirring piece of rhetoric that it practically leaps off the page.

Today's Public Domain Review embeds the Internet Archive's gorgeous scan of the original 1852 pamphlet that was sold through Frederick Douglass' Paper (AKA The North Star) and to the attendees in Rochester's Corinthian Hall on that fateful night.

Beyond that, the Review provides some much-needed context for the 19th Century Black experience of Jul 4, and the rival holiday, Jul 5, which commemorated the full abolishment of slavery in New York in 1827.

The speech's original title highlights the two holidays' divergence: "What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?" Jul 4 celebrations – and other public observances – were often accompanied by drunken white mobs attacking Black people and Black-owned businesses.

Black Americans celebrated Jul 5 with parades in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Douglass refused to give his speech on the 4th and instead gave it on the 5th, to a full house of 600 mostly white abolitionists, who bought 700+ copies of the pamphlet afterward.

Douglass labored over the speech for weeks and afterward wrote to an abolitionist to say that he thought it had gone over well. You can read the plain text of the speech here:

This day in history (permalink)

#10yrsago Econopocalypse: the Marxist animated whiteboard explanation

#10yrsago Copyright scholars talk Copyright Termination

#5yrsago Fantasy Sports: dungeon crawl ends in epic, eldritch basketball game

#5yrsago Hey, kids, let's play militarized police force!

#5yrsago When Firms Become Persons and Persons Become Firms: outstanding lecture

#1yrago Appeals court orders unsealing of the Jeffrey Epstein files

Colophon (permalink)

Today's top sources:

Currently writing:

  • My next novel, "The Lost Cause," a post-GND novel about truth and reconciliation. Friday's progress: 535 words (34486 total).

Currently reading: Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro

Latest podcast: Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town (part 08)

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"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother book, Oct 20, 2020.

"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden:; personalized/signed copies here:

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When life gives you SARS, you make sarsaparilla -Joey "Accordion Guy" DeVilla