Freedom (Excerpt from the book)
The 13th Amendment Freedom Week Manual is not a manual to open old wounds that are used as an excuse for the advocacy of hatred and division. It is an attempt to bring balance to the presentation of black history while celebrating historical points of reference for all people who love freedom. The thirteen colonies struggled successfully to “free” themselves from their colonial ruler, Great Britain. That was “independence” for a new nation and new government. Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th each year to commemorate that success. The 13th Amendment Freedom Week celebrates the end of slavery for Black Americans and simultaneously ushered in their freedom, and the first time in American history that all Americans were freed.
The best way to celebrate freedom is when ALL are free. And that falls under the ratification of the 13th Amendment, December 6, 1865. If we have independence as a country and freedom for individuals both, then that is great. They are similar but not necessarily the same. However, a people can have independence but not freedom. Many countries have independence but the individual citizens do not have freedom. They are run by dictators and tyrants. Freedom is more important than independence, if it means that by having independence as a country people are still enslaved. Freedom should be our birthright and celebrating it a part of our culture!
Believe it or not, some blacks are not enthusiastic about celebrating the 4th of July because they say that blacks were still slaves at the time, and that the Declaration of Independence did not apply to blacks, only whites. They sometimes mention Frederick Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the 4th of July?” dated July 5th, 1852. Well, Douglass lived until 1895 and changed his views, from the time he made the speech, on the Constitution. He became a great American Patriot and Statesman. His speech was BEFORE the founding of the Republican Party (which was an active member), the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights legislation, election of blacks to Congress, etc. So those blacks who like to recite Frederick Douglass as a reference should look at the “time line” of his growth and development if they want to treat him fairly.
The 13th Amendment Freedom Week celebrating the ratification of the 13th Amendment is the best Celebration to help heal and unite the Country because both blacks and whites were involved. And it is the best opportunity to teach about freedom and the United States Constitution, which is sorely needed in this country to perpetuate the ideas of freedom. Just celebrating the 4th of July does not get into the Constitution because the there was no United States Constitution, at the time. American did not have a President or Congress, nor was the slave trade or slavery abolished.