A Communal Reading of Frederick Douglass

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"What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?" - Frederick Douglass

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  It was a biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn."  And he asked them, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?"

The year marks the 160th anniversary of Douglass's reading of The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.  To celebrate and honor this profound speech a communal reading will be held on Worcester's Common.  The premise of the event is as such: One person shows up with a poster, another with a microphone.  A third attends with a stack of speeches and soon people are lining up to take turns reading paragraphs from Frederick Douglass's most famous speech.  Soon, the public square is filled with people reading along.  Before you know it, there is an open and free exchange of ideas - a dialogue about race and equality in America during the era of Obama.

If rain, the communal reading will be held in the Levi Lincoln Room, 3rd Floor of City Hall.