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Springfield gathers to honor Douglass

Date: 7/5/2011

July 4, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD — Dozens of people gathered on the steps of City Hall on June 29 for a communal reading of the speech delivered by abolitionist, social reformer and writer Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852. The speech was entitled, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” and was first read by Douglass to the Ladies of the Rochester (N.Y.) Anti Slavery Sewing Society.

In the speech, written at the time that slavery still existed in the nation, Douglass asked, “Fellow citizens, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?”

Dr. Alan Ingram, superintendent of Springfield schools read from the speech. Other participants included students from Springfield schools, State. Rep. Benjamin Swan and Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Mass Humanities sponsored the event and the full text of the speech can be read at

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