screenshot of flag graphic for Esau McCaulley's essay

To Tell the Truth on the 4th of July

“He thought enough of this country to tell the truth,” writes Esau McCaulley about Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

McCaulley goes on:

“Our country wants a certain version of the American story told and will laud anyone willing to tell it. But uncritical celebration is a limited and false definition of patriotism. Instead, recounting the full story of America and asking it to be better than it is can be an expression of love.”

This week, many of us have enjoyed popsicles and corn on the cob and fireworks and little American flags on sticks at parades. We’ve given thanks for the women and men who have fought to defend our freedoms on battlefields and in courts of law. We’ve celebrated the glories of American democracy. I’m grateful for McCaulley’s reminder that we need to do all this celebration with a willingness to also tell the truth about our complicated, contradictory, and sometimes grievous history, the truth about our complicated, contradictory, sometimes grievous current reality. 

Let’s join Frederick Douglass in thinking enough of this country to tell the truth about the injustices and the freedoms, the pain and the possibility, the grief and the goodness.

More with Amy Julia:

S6 E22 | Why Stories of Hope Subvert Racism with John Blake
S6 E19 | Deconstruction and Rebuilding with Yolanda Pierce
S6 E18 | Join the Work of Justice with Michelle Ferrigno Warren

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