Reflecting on Independence Day and Not Celebrating It

Writing for the Huffington Post, Pastor William H. Lamar IV contends that African-Americans shouldn’t celebrate the false sense of freedom the 4th of July emanates but rather reflect on America as what it historically was and what it currently is — a place where he is surrounded by “economic bondage, educational bondage, political bondage, health care bondage and religious bondage…”

There will be fireworks and Sousa. But I am sticking with Flav and Frederick. Why? I find little to celebrate. Douglass calls the Fourth “your holiday.” He does not own it. What happened to white Americans in 1776 was hardly felt by many black Americans in 1976. He calls the founders “your fathers.” He does not own them. And I cannot own them. They never intended for my ancestors to be anything but human cogs in the wheel of their economic prosperity. That is a fact. To forget that is to trample upon the bones of my forbears. I must reflect upon my ancestors’ elusive dream of freedom.

The government and the corporate media celebrate as patriots those who are uncritically supportive of America’s imperial exploits. That is not my heritage. I am Richard Allen’s son, the first black man to write a political pamphlet challenging America’s white supremacy. And we must keep writing. I am Ida B. Wells Barnett’s son, the powerful black woman who refused to let America lynch black bodies without sounding the alarm of outrage. And we must continue to speak up for those crushed by American violence masquerading as law and order. I am Bayard Rustin’s son, the black man who strategically organized people and resources to challenge the status quo and to demand justice from America. I am William H. Lamar III and Eartha A. Lamar’s son. I am only one generation removed from the ugliness of legal oppression in America. How can I celebrate liberty with bondage — economic bondage, educational bondage, political bondage, health care bondage, and religious bondage — all around me? On July 4, 2013, I will reflect on America as it was and as it is. And I will affirm my allegiance to my ancestors whose fight lives on in me.

Read William H. Lamar IV’s entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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