Reading Frederick Douglass

Reading Frederick Douglass

The Vermont Humanities Council invites groups and communities across Vermont to organize public participatory readings of Frederick Douglass’s compelling Independence Day speech on or close to July 4 each year.

About Frederick Douglass’s Fourth of July Speech

In 1852, Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s greatest orators and abolitionists, was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  In his provocative speech, Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?”

Douglass’s speech remains emotionally powerful and thought-provoking more than a century and a half after he gave it.

Image of Frederick Douglass