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What to the Slave is the 4th of July


A group of Santa Fe artists, educators, activists and a few professionals in- between, will gather this weekend to observe the 4th of July in a new way.

On Sunday July 5, 2015 at Teatro Paraguas from 6:00-8:00 pm they will offer a rendition of the 1852 speech "What to the Slave is the 4th of July" a biting, eloquent, honest and relevant speech first delivered by former slave Frederick Douglass over 150 years ago. "When you look at the 4th of July as a celebration of freedom it's only logical to look more closely than barbecues and fireworks. Those are the bells and whistles of the weekend, but freedom won or withheld is the heart of the holiday," said Sunshine Muse, organizer of Sunday's event. "Douglass", she continued, " had the most amazing way of getting to the heart of the matter with words and in his speech he calls for a better America. It's what the authors of the Declaration of Independence were trying to do and what social change agents in 2015 continue to do. On so many levels his speech remains relevant."

Rebecca Cohen, principal and teacher at the Home School Classroom, will read at the event on Sunday, along with 11 other people ranging in age from 21 to 71 moved by the call to do so." Anyone interested in history, American history in particular, has probably heard of Frederick Douglass, but to hear his words really highlights how far our country has come and can still go."

Douglass, escaped from slavery and went on to become a great American social reformer, abolitionist orator, writer and statesman. The language he uses in his 1852 speech is so complexly woven, eloquent and true that it remains relevant and compelling a century and a half after Douglass delivered them.

"It's amazing to me how well he communicated in a time when for most slaves in America it was illegal to read and write," notes Wanda Padilla, another reader for Sunday's event. "He was surely and inspiration then, as he can be now, to anyone willing to hear his voice."

“This reading is relevant if you are interested in history, freedom movements, immigration policies, police brutality, anti-racism, social change, phenomenal oration, joining America’s conversation on race, or building community,” says Muse.

Muse says the show is appropriate for children ages 10 and up with adults who are willing to talk with them about its content after the show. Younger children with parents who feel equipped to navigate the speech's content are also welcome.

Readings of Douglass's speech are offered throughout the country this weekend and youtube is riddled with actor and amateur renditions of his words. July 5, 2015 will offer the first public reading of Douglas's speech in Santa Fe. 

for more information please contact: Sunshine Muse 301-807-1145