Racism and Slavery

The Never-ending Battle
Slavery has been a controversial issue in the United States for hundreds of
years. Since the rise of slavery in the America, there have been numerous
accounts of resistance and opposition. Some of the more famous accounts of
resistance against slavery and racism are Harriet Tubman, the mastermind behind
the Underground Railroad, Rosa Parks, who refused to relinquish her seat on a
public bus to a White man, and Martin Luther King Jr.s movement and most
famous speech I Have A Dream. Although slavery is illegal in the United States
today, I believe that the fight against slavery will never end. Slavery in the
United States is about more than taking Blacks freedom; it is about equal
rights for all races and ethnicities. Sadly, there is too much hatred and greed
in the world to abolish slavery and racism forever.

Frederick Douglass Independence Day Speech at Rochester in 1852, is one of
the most profound speeches of American history. It is unthinkable that a Black
man would speak out so strongly against slavery and Whites during a time when
there was so much tension between the Blacks and Whites. Douglass was the ideal
person to give such a speech due to his experiences as a slave. With his
personal life experiences, combined with his education achieved in England, he
was able to present himself with dignity and authority. Through his speech,
Douglass reveals the hypocrisy of America. The best example of this is the last
line of the speech, which states, for the revolting barbarity and
shameless hypocrisy, America reins without a rival (Douglass 5)
Douglass plainly explains how phony the white leaders of that time were. This
is my favorite quote from this article because he points out the hypocrisy of
the laws written by the white male property owners. What is this but the
acknowledgment that the slave is a moral, intellectual, and responsible being
(Douglass 3). Douglass is explaining that a Black man can be put to death for
seventy-two crimes in the state of Virginia when a White man can be put to death
for only two. If a being, such as a Black man, committed any of these crimes,
then doesnt that classify that being as intellectual and responsible? And if
by law, that the White man wrote, Blacks are considered to be intellectual and
responsible beings, then how can Blacks be considered by White men to be the beasts
of the field (Douglass 3)? Therefore, law defines Blacks not only as men
equal to whites, but as human beings too.

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Because the confederate flag has long been a part of southern heritage, it is
still hung over many businesses and government agencies. There has been a
dispute about this for many years, but was not heavily covered by the media
until the beginning of 2000. There are many mixed opinions about the Confederate
flag. Numerous White southerners believe that the flag should fly over the state
Capital because, to them, it represents the freedom that was just out of reach
during the Civil War. For many others including myself, the Confederate flag
symbolizes more than the Confederate States of America. It stands for the
persecution of the Black race as well as other minority groups, in every way,
shape, and form. Joe Neal, Black Caucus vice-chairman, has similar thoughts in
Lisa Goddards article entitled South Carolina Governor Signs Confederate Flag
Compromise of WIS-TV in Columbia South. In it Neal states The flag
represents the Confederacy that enslaved, exploited, murdered, raped and killed
our people for over three hundred years, but somehow it seems okay to ask us to
fly it in front of our building (Neal). Nevertheless, there are many who
are in favor of keeping the flag flying over the Capitol building.

Throughout the entire Fourth of July speech, Douglass sarcastically compares
the Negroes to the lowest forms on earth. The most blatant example of this is on
the third page where Douglass says that When the dogs in your streets, when
the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea
and the reptiles that crawl shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a
brute, then will I argue with you that slave is a man (Douglass 3). Douglass
illustrates to his fellow Americans, White and Black, that the slave has fewer
rights than most animals. It helps the listeners to see how inhumane the slaves
were being treated. In addition, how they were imprisoned in there own country.

If they were considered by law to be human beings, how then could they have
fewer rights and less freedom than the dogs in your streets and the
fish of the sea (Douglass 3)? With this speech, Douglass revealed the truth
to all – the truth that Blacks were considered and treated like the most
insignificant life forms on earth.

Douglass continues by speaking in depth about the hypocrisy of America for
celebrating Independence Day. The Fourth of July for the American slave is a
day that reveals to him the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the
constant victim (Douglass 4) In my point of view, this is the strongest quote
made by Douglass because it supports his fact that most slave owners think that
their slaves, are worth less than the ground of which they stand on. Once again,
it shows the hypocrisy of the Fourth of July at that time. The Fourth of July
symbolizes the freedom of the United States and all those who reside there, yet
the blacks have the least freedom of all. They are stuck in their own living

One would assume that after decades of education about slavery and racism,
racial conflicts would be rare. Unfortunately it is just the opposite. Only a
decade ago was the highly publicized beating of Rodney King by four Los Angeles
police officers. Two of the officers were found guilty 1993, in federal court of
violating King’s civil rights and served 30 months in federal prison. At the
moment King is on probation until 2003, for being convicted of hit-and-run
involving his wife and spousal abuse in a separate incident (Associated

Slavery has been a part of social dynamics for thousands of years starting
with the Pharos who forced the Egyptians into building the pyramids. And it was
not until the Europeans brought Blacks from Africa that slavery became present
in America. To stop a problem like racism and slavery, on must find the source
of the problem. I believe that slavery began as a result of mans greed and
selfishness. From that, hatred between races grew until today when people are
charged as suspects of horrific crimes based on the color of their skin. It is a
very sad reality. Although I believe that the fight against racism will never be
won, I do think that much progress will be made.

Works Cited
Associated Press (2001). Rodney King reluctant symbol of police brutality.

Retrieved March 5, 2001 from http://www.cnn.com/2001/LAW/03/02/beating.anniversity.king.02/index.html
Goddard, Lisa (2000). Stateline.org. South Carolina Gov Signs Confederate
Flag Compromise. Retrieved March 5, 2001 from http://www.stateline.org/story.cfm?StoryID=78845
Category: Social Issues


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