Wednesday, July 4, 2007

What if...I honor the independence declaration of 1863?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Thomas Jefferson

I thought it would be easy to create a post in honor of Independence Day, to speak of honor, sacrifice, courage and freedom. But as I searched through articles and quotes pertaining to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and our subsequent celebrations of the event, I kept being brought back to the fact that not all of us were free. In actuality it took almost 90 more years until Americans of color were granted independence.

Words from a speech by Frederick Douglass on an Independence Day in 1841 reminded me of this:
"The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."

As an American, today I honor and recognize the founding fathers who sacrified and fought for an independent and self-governing nation. Today, also as an American, I feel called to recognize another declaration of independence, one that finally gave African-Americans reason to rejoice and celebrate.

"I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy, do hereby declare that on the first day of January, eighteen-sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state then in rebellion against the United States, shall then become and be forever free.

...And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

...And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God."

A proclamation by the President of the United States, 1 January 1863


Shalene said...

Amen Anne! Hallelujah for people like you that recognize that Slaves were not free until 1863. Unfortunately, there is another group, that while not held as slaves, they were very often held as prisoners and are to this day still not treated equally. Our Native American brothers and sisters. When did they stop sending them to reservations? When did they stop kidnapping their children and illegally adopting them in an effort to wipe out their race? Just wanted to bring something else to your attention.

Anne said...

Shalene, thanks so much for your comment; it was encouraging to read when I went on a totally different path with this. You're right about our Indian and American Native tribes too, and I thought about including them in the post, but wasn't quite sure how I was going to work all of that in. I used to do design work for an Indian Education program that was comprised of mostly members of the Ojibwe (Chippewa) tribe, and it gave me such pride whenever I could do anything on their behalf. Many of the Indian/Native American children are in the "at-risk" category, and I'm sure most of us realize that those who live on reservations often live in dire poverty. Even those who reap the financial benefits of the legal gambling on native soil still struggle with a high rate of addictions. I won't make this a long diatribe, but thank you for also honoring the indigenous peoples and all that they suffered in their native land.