Independence Day: a celebration of liberty and invitation for deep healing

July 3, 2023 at 12:49 PM |
Posted by: Katie Miller
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Frederick Douglass delivered an Independence Day-themed speech to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Association on July 5, 1852, in New York. He spoke directly to both the freedom and courage and the oppression and harm inherent in this national anniversary.

Douglass’ introduction describes the virtuosity the founding fathers in declaring their independence from Britain: “Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age.”

He also goes on to describe the atrocities of slavery, reiterating different experiences of the celebration of Independence Day: “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham…a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”  

A poster with different images of people and objects
Description automatically generatedJust 15 days after the Juneteenth, Independence Day is a celebration of liberty, yet also a reminder that the declaration of freedom from Britain in 1776 did not apply to everyone. It’d take another century before emancipation reached enslaved people.
Particularly relevant in the context of a holiday observing freedom in the United States, we think of Minnesota author, healer, and somatic abolitionist,
Resmaa Menakem. Resmaa wrote the book, “My Grandmother’s Hands” as an aid to healing racialized trauma in our bodies.

 Deeply rooted in our history is oppression and violence that lasts to this day in every system and every body in America. Because pain lives in our bodies (not just our minds), Resmaa also co-produced an album called, Dismembered and Unarmed, as an aid to whole-body healing.

 Use these words and sounds to help heal your body and deepen your experience of freedom.


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