Then, I'll just include these three lines from a paper that I wrote long ago, that sort of sum up my answer to Douglass's question.
For a time, in the fervor of revolution, African Americans thought the benefits of liberty and the rights of full citizenship might be extended to them... Instead, their very existence became a troubling testimony to the unfulfilled “truths” of the Declaration of Independence.... The American Revolution did have meaning for African Americans; it stood as an example of hypocrisy and ephemeral hope.
That speech rocks! I've used it in my courses - having students perform rhetorical analyses of it - and it is very effective.
On a similar note, did you see Eugene Robinson's op/ed column in the Washington Post today (available online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/03/AR2008070302450.html?hpid=opinionsbox1) about this same issue?
Not "...the unfulfilled “truths” of the Declaration of Independence...", elle, but the slowly fulfilled, the overdue freedoms, the work in progress.
On the 4th, I do not celebrate that America started to fight to be "free." I celebrate that the ideals of freedom became something worth fighting for, even as I, as a woman, would not have enjoyed those freedoms then. Even as my friends who were not land-owning, white males were left in the shadows.
I celebrate that you can write this post. I celebrate FOR YOU, and for all my American friends, at the potential of freedom. I hope for expansion of that freedom, even today.
In the interest of full disclosure, though, I've always resented the Founding Fathers title, even as I celebrate the 4th.
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