On July 4, 2020, our nation celebrated Independence Day or “July 4th.” According to history.com, the tradition of Independence Day celebrations goes back to the 18th century and the American Revolution. On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence, a historic document drafted mostly by Thomas Jefferson. From 1776 to the present, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with festivities, ranging from fireworks, bell ringing, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
While the early colonies declared their independence in the 18th century; did you know in this 21st century many people are dealing with issues that they need to declare their independence from? This thought was brought to my attention by a gentleman who shared with me he was celebrating his 6-year 8 months of sobriety. He said after he gave his life to Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit, he was finally able to declare his independence from a drug and alcohol dependency. His testimony is, since his declaration of dependence on God and declaration of independence from his addiction; his life has never been the same! Aware that I was a columnist in Milwaukee, he asked if I would consider this thought as a theme for an article series. I agreed. That conversation occurred at a July 4th barbecue while I was visiting my son and his family on the east coast. This month, I am making good on that promise. In January, I began preparing for this series by asking a handful of persons this question: ‘What Do You Want to Declare Independence From?’ Each respondent was asked to be transparent and as blunt as they desired. As an incentive, I assured them their identity will remain completely anonymous.
I invite you to join me this month as I dedicate this column to those persons who willingly offered their responses to this month’s prompt and to all of you as we all have something we need to free ourselves from. What is it you need to declare independence from? Low Self-Esteem, Fear, Self-Doubt, Insecurity, Bad Habits, Procrastination, Unhealthy Patterns in Relationships? Whatever it is, let it go, don’t give it anymore energy or attention that it doesn’t deserve.
Beloved, I would be extremely remiss if I didn’t mention that while the Declaration of Independence is celebrated by many, abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke out against the hypocrisy of the words: “all men are created equal.” Douglass proclaimed these words represented a misnomer as at that time America treated more than 10 percent of its population as slaves. If Jefferson were here today, would he lament how systemic and institutional racism and other disparities faced by people of color continue to challenge these words of the Declaration of Independence? For the past several weeks, people of all races, ages and backgrounds have taken to the streets to stand up for the cause of injustice against people of color and are saying enough is enough! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of a day when people of color will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, in many instances, is still just a dream. While these protests are beginning to pierce the conscience of our nation, let’s be honest, under the surface, there are still deeply engrained prejudices and attitudes that keep black and brown people from experiencing true justice and equality in the United States of America.
As the nation pauses on July 4th to celebrate “Independence Day”, I encourage you to not only continue to reflect on the many achievements that are a source of great pride for America (e.g. advancements in technology, education, science and medicine); but also, let’s reflect on the promises of the Declaration of Independence that are yet to be fulfilled and experienced by all Americans.
Next Week: Series Continuation
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