Mayor Lydia Lavelle will host the eighth annual community reading of Frederick Douglass’ essay, "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.”
The community reading will take place from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, outside Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St. The community reading will also be livestreamed at youtube.com/carrboronc.
Providing opening remarks for the program will be former NC Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the first African American woman to serve as chief justice of the NC Supreme Court. Currently, Justice Beasley is running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. Justice Beasley started her legal career as a public defender in Cumberland County. In 1999, she was appointed as a state district court judge and won elections for the position in 2002 and 2006. When she won a seat on the NC Court of Appeals in 2008, she became the first Black woman to win a statewide election.
“I can think of no better person to introduce this famous speech than former Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley,” Mayor Lavelle said. “Her resume speaks for itself, but I would like to highlight in particular the compelling speech she gave last June about the intersection of the justice system and the protests occurring across North Carolina. As the leader of the state’s highest court, in that speech Justice Beasley spoke to ‘the root cause of the pain that has plagued African-Americans and the complexities of race relations in America.’ I look forward to what I am certain will be similar thoughtful remarks at this event.”
About the Community Reading
In 1852, Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s greatest orators and abolitionists, was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his provocative speech, Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
On July 5, 1852, abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass delivered a scathing speech on slavery — its title commonly identified as “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” — that still echoes today. It took 13 years after the speech for slavery to be abolished — 89 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The Douglass speech is available at https://www.townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/9293/Frederick-Douglass-Speech-