Teacher Guide

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? Lesson Plan

Introduction to What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?

Arguably the most famous African-American writer of the 19th century, the former slave Frederick Douglass was also a renowned orator, who traveled around the country to spread his abolitionist message. His speech "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" is one of the most well-remembered of these—and deservedly so. In this speech, Douglass, who was asked to speak at an abolitionist society on July 5th, describes the profound gap between the ideals that America has professed since its independence and the horrible cruelty that it continues to inflict upon African-Americans. Douglass emphatically calls for an end to the hypocrisy of slavery, and appeals to his audience to continue the...

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