Dozens attend reading of Frederick Douglass’ ‘Fourth of July’ speech at historic site in Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — On Monday morning, dozens of people came out to the Historic Stagville Plantation in north Durham for a special reading of Frederick Douglass’ ‘Fourth of July’ speech.

People of all races and backgrounds sat in the audience at the plantation and some took turns coming up to the podium where they read portions of the speech.

The speech, which is called “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”, was first read in 1852 on July 5 in Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York.

The speech talks about the injustices felt by slaves who could not experience the freedom that other Americans felt on Independence Day because they were still enslaved.

People who were at the reading in Durham Monday said a lot of what Douglass said in his speech still resonates today as Black people still face racial injustice and oppression.

“It’s kind of meaningful for me to see people of so many races here, because they’re acknowledging the struggles of their peers,” said Jheri Hardaway, who attended the reading. “That’s the understanding, that’s the critical race theory that allows us to be bonded, instead of trying to suppress that information.”

The Historic Stagville Plantation in Durham will hold another reading of the speech next year on July 5.

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