The Fourth of July is a celebration of kidnapping, the buying, selling, and transportation of human beings, the severing of families, torture, rape, castration, lynching, and slavery.
And even then, it wasn’t that long ago. In reality, it was just contemporary history until the passing of former President Ronald Reagan in 2004—a mere 17 years ago. Take into account, for instance, what TikTok user @doorbender astutely observed in a viral video from May: “Thomas Jefferson was alive when Harriet Tubman was born. Ronald Reagan was (still) alive when Harriet Tubman passed away. Stop saying everything was 400 years ago. It wasn’t.”
Genealogical historians have determined that, despite the fact that Tubman’s exact birthdate is unclear, she was unquestionably born in the early 1820s. Tubman was between 3 and 5 years old on July 4, 1826, the day when Jefferson passed away. Reagan, who was born on February 6, 1911, was 2 years old when Tubman passed away on March 10, 1913.
From Jefferson, who encouraged slavery, through Tubman, who ended it, to Reagan, who made apartheid possible. Hmm… Consider that for a moment. America has always been and continues to be racist.
So why do many Black people still celebrate the Fourth of July with flag-waving, fireworks, and swine barbecues? Clearly, the answer is obvious. Either they are gullible traitors or both.
Firstly, let’s talk about ignorance. First off, ignorance is not the same as stupidity. It merely means not knowing. Additionally, it stands to reason that Black people who celebrate July 4th are unaware of how slavery first appeared in the British American colonies in 1619 and how the racist American nation was founded in 1776. So let me enlighten you. The lesson is in progress, so please pull up a chair.
After beginning their invasions in southern Africa in 1617, Europeans from Portugal assaulted the settlement of Ndongo in Luanda, Angola, two years later, and they carried 350 of those Kimbundu-speaking people into the “slave” ship São João Bautista before ordering it to be dispatched to Vera Cruz, Mexico. After setting sail, the ship encountered the Treasurer, an English pirate ship, in the waterways of the so-called West Indies. It was also joined by the White Lion, a fiercely equipped Dutch warship and pirate ship. Together, they overran the São João Bautista, boarded it, and abducted around 60 of the 350 Angolans. What happened to the remaining 290 people or so is not known in history.
Less than 30 of the approximately 60 kidnapped people were loaded onto the White Lion when it landed at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, on August 25, 1619. The human cargo was then traded, sold, and made to work as slaves at plantations along the James River in what would become Charles City. Slavery appeared in America as a result.
The remaining 30 or so were coerced onto the Treasurer, which, according to historians, carried them to Bermuda for enslavement there.
Despite the fact that slavery was established in Virginia, a territory in the South, it wasn’t specific to that colony, state, or area. In the North, including here in Philadelphia, it also occurred. The London Coffee House was built in 1754 on the southwest corner of Front and High Streets, which is now Market Street, and was financed by 200 neighborhood businesses. Shippers, businessmen, and local leaders, including the governor, congregated there to network, drink alcohol and coffee, and eat in private booths while negotiating transactions. Auctions for carriages, food, horses, and African girls, boys, women, and men who had recently been discharged from ships that had docked across the river at the Delaware River were held there on the High Street side.
Slavery played a significant role in everyday life in Pennsylvania in general and Philadelphia in particular. Nearly 4,500 Black slaves toiled in the colony in the 1760s. In the metropolis, at least one Black person was being held in bondage in around one in every six white families. When the slave ship Isabella from Bristol, England, docked in Philadelphia in 1684 carrying 150 abducted Africans, this horrible system was born. Three Black people were held in servitude by William Penn himself at his manor in Pennsbury, 20 miles north of Philadelphia, a year later. Even George Washington held Black people in slavery, 316 in total. And he held nine of them at the President’s House, also known as America’s first “White House,” which was located at Sixth and Market (formerly High) Streets, and where a significant Slavery Memorial has stood since 2010 in the so-called “City of Brotherly Love.”
Even though the Declaration of Independence’s second paragraph asserts that “All men are created equal,” around 500,000 Black men, women, and children were held as slaves in the Thirteen Colonies in 1776. The Continental Congress formally ratified the Declaration of Independence, which resulted in the official founding of this country, on July 4 of that year, two days after its members voted to do so. And at that time, slavery was legal in all 13 colonies, as is evident by the fact that 27 of the 56 white male landowners who signed the Declaration held, transported, or otherwise participated in the forced labor of Black people.
By the way, in 1776, Thomas Jefferson, who is accused of copying the Declaration of Independence, held 175 Black people in servitude; by 1822, the number had risen to 267.
Frederick Douglass was driven to deliver a speech titled “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro” in 1852 as a result of this racist deceit. He thundered in his unveiling and provocative speech:
“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 shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery … fraud, deception … and hypocrisy- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloodier than are the people of the United States….”
I am delighted to have been a founding member of Avenging The Ancestors Coalition (ATAC), which launched a successful eight-year campaign for the aforementioned Slavery Memorial at Sixth and Market Streets in 2002. And every July Fourth since 2002, ATAC has proudly told the tale of our enslaved ancestors there in a Critical Race Theory-type presentation.
You are no longer ignorant now that you are aware of the racist connotation of July Fourth. Therefore, you have advanced from being an ignoramus to being a traitor if you continue to reject Blackness and embrace whiteness on July Fourth. In the end, a traitor is someone who engages in treason, which is described as “adhering to adversaries… [by] giving them aid and comfort” in Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Treason is also described as “anyone, owing allegiance to… (one’s own nation),… adheres to their enemy,… giving them aid and comfort” in 18 U.S.C. Section 2381 of the United States Code. In terms of culture, offering an oppressor “aid and comfort” at your expense means celebrating a holiday that has historically been oppressive.
So instead of honoring white supremacy or white cruelty, let’s celebrate Black liberation and self-respect.
This article was originally written By Michael Coard For The Philadelphia Tribune