At a bus stop yesterday I met with a black man carrying a bag of groceries, and he laughed when I asked him if he was carrying his Fourth of Jury. Waiting on with him, it occured to me that for the first eighty-eight years of the United States, most black people in the south were slaves with no cause to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Staying with that idea, I mused over the notion that in America back then a black family could belong to a white family. That owner family had the legal right to break up that black family, selling off husbands, wives or children. It put me in mind of a line from the poem “”The Ancient Mariner.” When the ancient mariner’s ship got stuck without a breeze on the Equator, he exclaimed, “Oh Christ, that ever such should be!” The thought of American slavery has me exclaiming the same thing.
We easily forget low times in our history. Like, I was surprised recently to learn that in 1942 President Roosevelt, for fear of losing Southern votes, refused to support an Anti-lynching law in Congress.
For celebrating American Independence, along with setting off fireworks, we could dedicate ourselves to finding independence for fellow humans still in bondage.
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