July 4, 2020. A very different Independence Day than many we have celebrated in the past. Throughout our history, this day has stirred up unrest, vulnerable feeling and opened the door (even a crack) to the injustices we still face as a nation as we go about our celebrating, picnicking, and shooting off fireworks.
Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Colin Kaepernick and others have made efforts to shed light on the racism and injustices we face as a nation. The death of George Floyd, while many consider, the straw that broke the camels back, came during a time when we, as a nation were already feeling out of balance, vulnerable and unsteady. Covid 19 brought a set a problems unknown and uncomfortable to ALL Americans. Perhaps even acting as a catalyst to empower Black’s and White’s alike to stand up, go out and protest for the injustices and inequalities we must face if this nation is to remain or maybe find greatness.
Douglass mourned, like generations before and after him, the tragedy of a country whose national creed of freedom and liberty were in fact rooted in the bondage of Black souls and the exploitation of Black labor. King believed Black Americans had historically received a “bad check,” yet refused to believe “that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.” That same speech ended by King arguing that when America at long last fulfilled its original promise, matched word on paper with public deeds in action, it would give new meaning to patriotic expressions of love of country. Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest in support of Black humanity by proclaiming that Black Lives Matter in taking a knee during the National Anthem has at last moved others to kneel in solidarity.
Will July 4, 2020 be seen in history as the Independence Day where our country is no longer in the grips of anti-Black racism and white supremacy? Can we acknowledge our history without celebrating it’s meaning? Can we finally take away the statues and the flag that represents racial inequality and replace it with something new? We must continue to confront our past in order to create a new future – one that includes all with equality, vulnerability, understanding and love.
There are tensions within a national holiday professing freedom by a country built on slavery. I don’t know if that will ever disappear but the hope of this massive moment in American history belongs to the courage of ordinary Americans — those people whose passion and beliefs have moved them to show up in demonstration and protest, feel anger and empathy, and have created a generational opportunity to confront legacies of racism that touch every aspect of our society.
We must continue to confront the past in order to create a new future big enough to include us all. So on this July 4th, my prayer is we can embrace America’s past holistically. Our goal remains freedom. Freedom FOR ALL. Maybe we are finally at the day we can agree the have failed to live up to our nations creed written in our most sacred documents –
With liberty and justice for all.
That all men are created equal.
Time will tell how this is written in the book of America’s history.
God Bless America