On Independence Day, quarterback-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick continued to prove to many people that his protests are directed at America as a whole and not just at incidents of police brutality against African Americans.
He showed that by reportedly demanding that Nike cancel their 4th of July sneakers because the Betsy Ross flag displayed on their heels was flown during a time when slavery was legal in America.
And then he showed it on the 4th of July itself by posting a historic quote suggesting that black people should not celebrate the holiday.
On Twitter, Kaepernick shared a quote by historic abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who once said in a speech, “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”
He accompanied the quote with a video of the quote being read over a montage of images and video clips of slavery, racism, and the shooting of black people by police officers. Kaepernick’s message was clear: black people are still enslaved in America, and thus America’s birthday should not be celebrated.
But Douglass’ speech did not stop there, and that was not the message he was trying to convey.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) decided to give Kaepernick — and all of his followers — a little context for clarity.
“You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand,” Cruz replied on Twitter.
“Two critical points: (1) This speech was given in 1852, before the Civil War, when the abomination of slavery still existed. Thanks to Douglass and so many other heroes, we ended that grotesque evil and have made enormous strides to protecting the civil rights of everybody,” he explained.
“(2) Douglass was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery.”
“Indeed, he concluded the speech as follows: ‘Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country,’” Cruz quoted.
“There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain,” he wrote, continuing to quote Douglass. “I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from ‘the Declaration of Independence,’ the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.”
In other words, Douglass praised America for being a great enough nation to get the cogs spinning for the eventual abolition of an abominable practice that had existed throughout all of history and around the globe.
“Let me encourage everyone,” Cruz added. “READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH; it is powerful, inspirational, and historically important in bending the arc of history towards justice: https://rbscp.lib.rochester.edu/2945”