Partnering with God's liberating presence

June 30th, 2020

Many Americans celebrate Independence Day with fireworks, parades and loads of grilled meat as a way to commemorate our country’s freedom. However, July 4 also serves as a reminder of our country’s historical hypocrisy regarding freedom, as African Americans were held in the bondage of slavery for nearly one hundred years beyond when the Declaration of Independence was signed. Even though slavery and segregation are illegal now, many Black people in the United States still remain under the heel of racist oppression.

Racist history

Famous abolitionist, Fredrick Douglass, gave a speech on July 5, 1827, titled, “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?” The African Americans in New York City were celebrating the end of slavery in their state by parading down Broadway Street. During this celebration, Fredrick Douglass referenced how Black Americans were not included in the Fourth of July celebrations since they were not truly free. This is why Frederick Douglass asked to give the speech on July 5 instead of July 4.

Later in the year 1865, after the Civil War occurred, Black Americans in the South wanted to celebrate their new emancipation. They paraded in the streets and shot off fireworks. Whites in the South were enraged by these formerly enslaved people turning July 4 into a celebration of Black liberation. Mobs broke out leading to violence and death. Following the incidents, white people in powerful positions implemented segregation laws to make Black celebrations illegal on July 4. Even after slavery was abolished, Fredrick Douglass’ words still rang true that Black people were not free to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Freedom in Christ

Slavery, segregation and discrimination may be illegal now, but that doesn’t mean people of color are able to enjoy freedom. Black Americans especially are still held in bondage by the sin of white supremacy that runs deep in our country. Thankfully, we serve a God who hates oppression and desires freedom for everyone. God invites us to partner with the liberating presence of Christ to help dismantle systems of oppression.

Question of the day: How does your family celebrate Independence Day?
Focal scriptures: Exodus 6:5-12; Mark 5:1-17; Luke 18:1-8

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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