Frederick Douglass, "What to the slave is the Fourth of July?"
Thursday, July 05, 2018  6:00 PM
Delaware History Museum/Mitchell Center - Wilmington


Frederick Douglas_photo by George Francis Schreiber_1870_Library of CongressVisit the Delaware Historical Society Mitchell Center for African American Heritage for a special performance of excerpts from Frederick Douglass’ speech, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?,” as interpreted by Ron Whittington. Mr. Whittington regularly presents first-person historical interpretations as one of Delaware Humanities speakers. In addition to Douglass, he appears as Baseball Hall of Famer William “Judy” Johnson to engage audiences in the history of the Negro Baseball Leagues, prior to Jackie Robinson’s participation in the major leagues of American baseball.

Douglass gave this speech on July 5, 1852, before the ladies of the Rochester (New York) Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester's Corinthian Hall. “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?,” addresses the contradiction at the heart of the nation’s founding—the difference between ideals of freedom and citizenship as represented by the Declaration, and the daily lived reality of enslaved people of African descent. It was shortly published as a pamphlet for distribution at the request of the Society, and became well-known as a weapon in the arsenal of the abolitionist movement.  After self-emancipation from unpaid labor in Maryland, Douglass settled in Rochester with his wife and their children; he became a leading orator and abolitionist, speaking powerfully against slavery in the United States from his personal experience. Douglass stated, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."

July 9 is the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment, which establishes rights of citizenship and equal protection under the laws of the U.S.

FREE - Reservations requested; click here to reserve

NOTE: The time for this event has changed from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

FREE PARKING is available courtesy of Colonial Parking on the corner of 6th and Shipley streets.


Delaware History Museum/Mitchell Center   -   Website
505 N. Market Street


The Delaware History Museum (1940) - Originally a Woolworth's Department Store, the building has been transformed into the Delaware History Museum and the Jane and Littleton Mitchell Center for African American Heritage. It features permanent and rotating exhibitions, classrooms and meeting space.

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The Delaware Historical Society is the statewide, non-profit organization that explores, preserves, shares, and promotes Delaware history, heritage, and culture to strengthen our community.