Americans reflect on Independence Day amid racism reckoning

  • Written by Axios
  • Published in Politics
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America's leaders are rethinking how they view Independence Day, as the country reckons with the historic, unequal treatment of people of color during a pandemic which has disproportionately affected nonwhite Americans.

Why it matters: The country’s legacy of racism has come into sharp focus in the weeks of protests following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. From Confederate statues to Mount Rushmore, Americans are reexamining the symbols and traditions they elevate and the history behind them.


Flashback: "I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary!" said abolitionist Frederick Douglass about Independence Day in a historic 1852 address.

  • "Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common," Douglass said.

Douglass reminded his audience that most Black people in the U.S. were still slaves when the country adopted the Declaration of Independence. Some people of color say it's still difficult to reconcile celebrating the country's independence while also acknowledging its past and current inequities.

  • Recognizing both of those ideas is something we must do, said Dolores Huerta, a longtime civil rights activist and the founder and president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

What they're saying: Huerta, born to Mexican immigrants, has had family members who fought in World War II and the Korean War. People of color have often fought for the United States in wars against ideas perceived as anti-American, like Nazism and fascism, Huerta points out.

Huerta said even those who participated in the recent wave of protests against racism and police brutality, at...

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