An Unholy License

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This beleaguered Fourth evokes the searing words of Frederick Douglass as he furiously recounted, as a black man to his white audience, "the immeasurable distance between us" in his speech asking, "What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" His 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 denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages." In this historic moment, his descendants read from him. So does Daveed Diggs - "Hamilton"'s Thomas Jefferson - to images of today's bitter, boiling, still-racist America, asking, like Douglass, "Where is the country where my people are safe?"

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