A human being is a complicated entity of a contradictory nature where creative and destructive, virtuous and vicious are interwoven. Each of us has gone through various kinds of struggle at least once in a lifetime ranging from everyday discrepancies to worldwide catastrophes. There are always different causes and reasons that trigger these struggles, however, there is common ground for them as well: people are different, even though it is a truism no one seems to able to realize this statement from beyond the bounds of one’s self and reach out to approach the Other.
The concept of the Other is dominant in Frederick Douglass’s text “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro”, for it determines the main conflict and illuminates the issue of intolerance and even blasphemy regarding the attitude of white Americans towards Negroes. The text was written as a speech to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and delivered at Rochester’s Corinthian Hall on July 5, 1852. It was a remarkable articulation of the Black people voice living in the United States of America at that point of time because Black people were going through too much humiliation on physical and moral levels (Andrews, 1991, p.46).
In order to get to the gist of the speech and reveal the emotional resonance it creates, a historical background timeline needs to be sketched. The period of the 1850s in the USA was especially tough for slaves due to several significant events that happened within this period of time. First of all, there was Nashville Convention held on June 3, 1850 the goal of which was to protect the rights of slaveholders and extend the dividing line northwards. September 18 of the same year brought the Fugitive Slave Act according to which the slave who managed to escape from his owner to the free state was to be caught and later returned back with all the consequences to follow. Worthy of notice precedent takes place on February 15, 1851. Shadrach Minkins is caught by slave catchers in Boston; however, with the help of the African Americans group he manages to escape. The nine abolitionists, members of the previously mentioned group, helped Minkins move to Canada and later they were indicted but acquitted and set free afterwards. This was the event that gave a ray of hope to those suffering from injustice and drowning in apathy. Finally, the abolitionist movement that originated on the territory of the United States long before it actually became a country (1652 is suggested to be considered the start date) and divided into two groups in the middle of the 19th century. Notwithstanding this the abolitionist movement contributed greatly to the change of the Black people status in American society.
Frederick Douglass was a writer, social reformer and outstanding orator. His speech nestled against these volatile times having absorbed all the moods and vibrations of his fellow compatriots having the same color of skin. In the excerpt selected for...