Not that anybody really needs another reason to celebrate the Fourth of July, but if you’re African American and operating under the misguided notion that our ancestors weren’t involved in securing the country’s independence on July 4, 1776, or that black Americans didn’t contribute significantly to building the nation — you’d be wrong. The holiday was originally intended to commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence — and although Frederick Douglass once decried the holiday — there are some facts that can’t be ignored and make this holiday a birthright of African Americans.
Fact 1: Crispus Attucks, a fugitive slave, served as a key catalyst to the American Revolution. When British soldiers fired upon the colonists in 1770, in what is now immortalized as the “Boston Massacre,” Attucks was the first to die.
Fact 2: Lord Dunmore, the British governor of Virginia, was certain that with the assistance of blacks the British could win the Revolutionary War so he promised any slave who fought with the British their freedom. In the British “Ethiopian” brigade, about 300 African Americans fought at the Battle of the Great Bridge on December 9, 1775.
Fact 3: Some blacks believed that if they fought with the colonists they could demand freedom, believing whites couldn’t justify continuing to hold them in bondage after they fought for freedom, while other blacks took the deal with the British.
Fact 4: Haitians even took part in the fight for freedom. In Savannah, GA, in 1779, over 500 Haitians, known as “Les Chasseurs Volontaires De Saint Domingue,” fought against the British in the historic Siege of Savannah.
Fact 5: An estimated 5,000 African Americans fought in the American Revolution.
Fact 6: As with every war and conflict the United States has ever been involved African Americans have served this nation with valiance and bravery.
Fact 7: A black man, Barack Obama; became the 44th president and commander in chief of the United States, and served for an eight year term.
So, if you think our investment in this country has been anything less than remarkable or that it doesn’t deserve celebration or commemoration — you would just be whistling Dixie.