Infamous anti-American poster boy, Colin Kaepernick showed no restraint this Independence Day when he posted a misleading fragment of a speech by Frederick Douglass. “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” is the name of the speech that was delivered on July 5, 1852, nearly a decade BEFORE the Civil War.
Kaepernick posted the following segment:
“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”
– Frederick Douglass
The quote Kaepernick chose only tells a piece of the story. Douglass’ speech was not entirely condemning of America. He finished the speech on a positive note, pointing out that America’s founding documents offered as much hope for freedom to blacks as it does to whites.
Douglass ended the speech in hope:
“I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from the Declaration of Independence, the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.
Nations do not now stand in the same relation to each other that they did ages ago. No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done.”
Douglass’ relationship with the U.S.A. was understandably complicated. But he always tended to feel that America was a great nation with a flawed history. Indeed, he also called the U.S. Constitution a “glorious liberty document” in that very same speech.
Douglass knew that the “American genius” was a promise for all men, not just whites, and it was a promise built into the country from the very beginning.
Twitter was quick to lambaste the former NFL player for his complaints about the nation that gave him the opportunity to earn millions of dollars. Clearly, he has suffered a lot…
Senator Ted Cruz weighed in on the matter, calling out Kaepernick for his refusal to tell the whole story.
“You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass,” Sen. Cruz writes in response, “but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand.”
Cruz goes on to point out that Douglass “was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery.” He also acknowledged that slavery was an “abomination” which was eliminated through the efforts of Douglass and “so many other heroes.”
To support his claims, Cruz quotes another portion of the same Douglass speech:
“Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country.
“There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain.
“I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from ‘the Declaration of Independence,’ the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.”
The Senator then finishes off by writing “Let me encourage everyone, READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH; it is powerful, inspirational, and historically important in bending the arc of history towards justice.”