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Once Upon A Black Holiday: The Other Face Of History Behind America's 4th Of July Celebrations

July 5, 2018 10:21

America’s 4th of July celebrations mark the day all thirteen colonies declared their independence from Great Britain. Founding father, Thomas Jefferson, drafted the document that became the Declaration of Independence. For many people, this is the biggest party of the year. But it is also important for several other reasons.

In 1775, members of the Continental Congress declared war against Britain. This was the beginning of a new future for them. The first-ever celebration of Independence took place on Rhode Island on July 4, 1777.

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Over the years, different administrations have made subtle adjustments to the day’s celebration. Traditionally, Americans mark it with parades and other events across the countries. Some families use the opportunity to have family reunions as well.

Some brands also use the holiday to cash in on sales. According to Sunday Express, Kingdom of Sweets, the largest sweet maker in the UK, is expecting to rake in a bountiful profit this week as they expect many Americans to visit the UK in their droves this season.

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But while the day may mean a glorious departure from British rule to most Americans, it bears a different significance to the African American community. After 1777, African Americans were far from enthusiastic about Independence, seeing as slavery was still commonplace.

However, after July 4, 1865, the situation changed to some degree. Confederate sympathizers in the South had lost the civil war and were less compelled to celebrate the 4th of July. But the newly liberated black Americans found a new reason to mark the day as it had given new meaning to them.

Freedom came at a price and for the black Americans, the date became a grim reminder of their past and reason to celebrate their elevation in America. And from Charleston, South Carolina, which was the heart of Southern secession to Alabama and beyond, they embraced the holiday like never before.

But this newfound joy face stiff resistance from white Americans. On July 4, 1875, a mob of white protesters broke up a Republican rally that had black Americans in attendance, killing a deputy Sherif. A year after, another riot broke out in Hamburg, South Carolina, and led to the death of even more black people.

However, passing years have seen a majority of white Americans embracing the reality that the 4th of July celebration is not an exclusive right of any race.

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Also, seeing as the racial landscape of America is changing due to the influx of people from all over the world, the celebration continues to find new meaning for immigrants.

In the spirit of the season, we like to wish all Americans a happy 4th of July.

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