The 4th of July, 400 Years Later

The United States has not been celebrating July 4th for 400 years. That’s how long most Africans in America trace our plight on this continent. Not all, but most. By the time the wealthy, white, landholding Continental Congress-men signed the Declaration of Independence, Africans had already endured 157 years (or more) of enslavement by the British colonizers. The august men who signed the revered document proclaiming “life and liberty” as God-given rights of all (men), decided it was okay for Africans and their descendants to endure another 89 July Fourths in slavery, in the “land of the free”, until it no longer served the political and economic interests of the northern states, whose industrial development gave them the advantage in the Civil War.

Since then we have seen forward and backward motion in fits and spurts regarding white America’s attitude toward the people of African descent. After Reconstruction, legal battles, World Wars and the Civil Rights Era; white power, white supremacy and white privilege have always clawed back some of the gains African descendants have made – as if we have ever made gains enough to serve as reparations for what was stolen from our ancestors and is now subsumed within the wealth of America and (mostly white) Americans.

After 400 years the Bible tells us God got tired of it all and had a plan for the sudden and dramatic liberation of an oppressed people in an ancient land. The most powerful nation on Earth suffered a crippling defeat without ever fighting a battle. It was primarily because of a recalcitrant and egotistical leader who would not listen to anyone’s counsel. One can only hope history will repeat itself, and my people will be free in short order, by divine order.

C.M. Honoré, President
NAACP San Diego Branch