Reading Frederick Douglass

Reading Frederick Douglass

Host a Reading Frederick Douglass Event

Every summer, we seek Vermont communities to host public participatory readings of Frederick Douglass’s fiery Independence Day speech. These readings are free and open to all.

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. Read a transcript of this speech.

The radio program “Bon Mot” on WGDR at Goddard College hosted a reading of Frederick Douglass’s speech in 2017. Listen to a recording of Douglass’s speech.

Image of Frederick Douglass