Dear Democracy Now! Visitor: We are an independent, ad-free daily news program that serves millions of viewers and listeners each month. In this US election year, Democracy Now! is more important than ever. For 20 years, we’ve put a spotlight on corporate and government abuses of power. We lift up the stories of ordinary people working to make change in extraordinary times. We do all of this with just a fraction of the budget and staff of a commercial news show. We do it without ads, corporate sponsorship or government funding. How is this possible? Only with your support. A generous funder will match your donation dollar for dollar if you donate right now. That means when you give $10, your donation will be worth $20. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you every day.

Your Donation: $

Frederick Douglass Oration On July 4th

July 05, 1999

Today is a national holiday, commemorating the Fourth of July, when American colonies declared their independence from England in 1776. While many in America hang flags, attend parades and watch fireworks, Independence Day is not a cause of celebration for all. For Native Americans, it is a bitter reminder of colonialism, which brought disease, violence, genocide and the destruction of their culture and way of life.

For African Americans, Independence Day did not extend to them. While white colonists were declaring their freedom from the Crown, that liberation was not shared with millions of Africans captured, beaten and separated from their families and forced into brutal slavery thousands of miles from home.

On this special holiday broadcast, we’ll hear the story of an amazing friendship between an Exalted Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan and a black civil rights activist–a story that offers hope for healing in a racially divided nation.

But first we go back 147 years, to one of the most powerful voices of the abolition movement: Frederick Douglass, born a slave in Maryland in 1818. As a young boy, Douglass was taught how to read by slaveholder Sophia Auld. It was a dangerous and radical act that changed his destiny.

Douglass escaped from slavery in the 1830’s and became a leader in the growing campaign against slavery through lectures and his anti-slavery newspaper, The North Star.

On July 4, 1852, Douglass delivered one of his most powerful speeches against slavery in Rochester, NY. Here is a dramatic reading of the Fourth of July Oration by Frederick Douglass.


  • Fourth Of July Oration–from 1852 in Rochester, New York, by abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Read by Bernard White, of Pacifica station WBAI in New York.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.