The debate between silently obeying the law and loudly resisting in the face of injustice is one that has existed since the birth of this country. Those who resist see the obedient citizens as ignorant of what goes on around them. On the other hand, those that are obedient see resistors as radicals. I believe that resistance, whether it be peaceful or violent, is justified. In this paper, I will refer to works by Frederick Douglass, Stephanie Camp, and Deborah Gray White to show that resistance is important to challenge injustices, whether it be slavery in the 1800s or inaction against racism at colleges in 2015. In Fredrick Douglass’s speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” Douglass proves the necessity of resistance by relating …show more content…
Douglass writes, “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future” (115). Resistance was necessary not only to overthrow colonial oppression by the British, but slave oppression by their masters. Douglass makes the metaphor of oppressed slaves to the oppressed colonies to correlate the two through resistance. His main purpose behind the speech is to encourage his mostly white audience to resist slavery and join the abolitionist movement, much like the Patriots resisted the Crown and joined the revolutionary movement. Resistance was important to freeing the slaves. Douglass himself is a key example of resistance. He escapes slavery and becomes a famous figure who speaks about …show more content…
Students at the University of Missouri, specifically the Concerned Student 1950 activist group, began a resistance movement to remove the university’s president, Tim Wolfe. The university saw a rise in the number of racist incidents, but the president did not take any action. Some of the racist incidents include “a swastika, drawn in excrement” and the “screaming of racial insults, including the ‘N-word” at the head of the Missouri Students Association (“Missouri”). The students began protesting by standing in front of the president’s car at a parade, but when that didn’t garner a response they began to resist in more extreme methods. Jonathan Butler, a graduate student at the University of Missouri, went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat until the president, who took little action against the racist incidents, chose to resign. Hunger strikes, much like abortions, are a form of resistance that can be categorized by inward violence. After a week without food, Tim Wolfe resigned and Butler was able to end his hunger strike (Lowery). The students at Missouri were able to use resistance successfully to create a change in their university’s leadership. Not only did they succeed in changing the leadership, but they gained the attention of the entire nation. Their actions are causing citizens all around the country to think about existing
The forceful subjugation of a people has been a common stain on history; Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail was written during the cusp of the civil rights movement in the US on finding a good life above oppressive racism. Birmingham “is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known,” and King’s overall goal is to find equality for all people under this brutality (King). King states “I cannot sit idly… and not be concerned about what happens,” when people object to his means to garner attention and focus on his cause; justifying his search for the good life with “a law is just on its face and unjust in its application,” (King). Through King’s peaceful protest, he works to find his definition of good life in equality, where p...
This victory, combined with the achievement of literacy and other factors, such as the will to escape and attempt to teach others, point to a sense of inner, "factual" freedom which develops while Douglass is still a slave according to the law and in the public eye. Just as the Narrative is a personal story set within a framework of social relevance, the striving for freedom is personal before it is physical and external. In spirit and sense of self Douglass becomes free while still a slave, even if that freedom makes his more tangible bonds all the more painful. Because he fought for this freedom long before being ranked among free Northerners, Douglass maintains, in his narrative for the white abolitionist movement, an inner independence of social and legal definitions of slavery and freedom.
The effectiveness and excellent structure of Frederick Douglass’ Fourth of July speech is apparent. His rhetorical arguments served as powerful rebuts to opposing contentions and forced his audience to consider the undeniable error in their nation’s policy and approach regarding slavery. Douglass also compelled his audience to take his words seriously by establishing his credibility, recognizing his audience, and skillfully constructing and executing his speech. The end product of his efforts became a provocative speech at the time and a historical delivery in the future. Douglass succeeded in giving a speech that clearly and effectively argued the absurdity of the institution of slavery in America, leaving it up to his audience to consider his position and decide for themselves how to act in the future.
When contrasting violent and non-violent forms of civil disobedience, one can look at the contrasting doctrines of civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Martin Luther King’s tactics of protest involved non-violent passive resistance to racial injustice. He once said, “unearned suffering is redemptive. Suffering,...
In the year 1826 Fredrick Douglass realized that he would eventually escape slavery. He would recount this thought four times in his life when he has to become most rebellious in order to survive slaveholders attempting to establish control and dominance in different ways. Each time one comes along Douglass responds using a different form of retaliation or rebellion to show his masters that they don’t own as much control over him as they think they do. All of these attempts to resist his masters control, slavery, and what slavery stood for were detrimental to Fredrick’s escape but the most influential one, the resistive act that started, and kept, the ball rolling was Fredrick’s determination to become literate. Knowledge is power and without his ability to read and write Douglass would have never escaped slavery or written a Narrative of his life.
Frederick Douglass starting his speech to talk about the fourth of July he started with rhetorical questions and the reason for the questions was to give the audience the real meaning of what the fourth of July really is to them and to get the audience attention so that they listen and understand what the slaves have gone through especially during the fourth of July. He did not choose to give the speech on the day that they were treated badly, He gave the speech to show and tell the audience that he does not what to be a part of that celebration where on that day they were not free. He’s wondering why they’re being treat that way and what they have done to the Americans that they’re treating them like they’re not humans. Frederick also in his speech stated that the fourth of July celebration is not for him because why would he celebration a day where he was held as a slave and treated like he was not a human. The questions helped Douglass to connect with his audience because the questions were to make sure that the audience was paying attention to his speech and what he was saying. One question he asked to get his audience attention was “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? (Douglass
Douglass, who was born a slave, became a well-known figure in America during the abolitionist movement. After escaping from slavery in 1838, Douglass was one of the most famous orators and black men in America just a decade later. In the early stages of the abolitionist movement, Douglass identified closely with fellow abolitionist William Lloyd-Garrison. Both held that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document due to the compromises that allowed for the continuation of slavery and not blocking its spread. Douglass and Garrison produced around 40 anti-Union speeches in 1847. In 1853, in honor of the Fourth of July, a group, consisting of mostly white members, chose Douglass to present a speech. Douglass seized the opportunity to project his stance on the issue of slavery. In his speech, Douglass uses powerful rhetoric to describe injustices a black man or slave endures. He expounds upon how American ideals such as freedom and liberty are an offense to African Americans due to their lack of freedom and liberty. Douglass essentially exposed the hypocritical celebration of these freedoms by Americans, considering a large portion of the population were in bondage. This type of bitterness toward slavery is something both Douglass and Garrison possessed. However, Douglass eventually swayed his view from Garrison regarding the Constitution. With
In the speech, “what to the slave is the Fourth of July?” which Fredrick Douglass gave he emphasized how the fourth of July is not a celebration to the slaves but an insult and ridicule. Douglass uses logos and pathos to make the audience understand his point of view and how this so called “independence day’’ is for whites only because the black people in America are still slaves , which in turn means they can’t celebrate this day. Using these rhetoric’s he conveys his point on how this day is adds insult to injury.
Slavery is one of the worst human tragedies of all time. People were subjected to forced labor and inhumane treatment as a function of their appearance and origin. The subjection was independent of the parentage. Even children fathered by whites were subjected to the same treatment as the rest of the slaves. Slaves were the property of the owners. As such, slavers did with the slaves what they desired. Cruelty was used to create submission and send the message that slaves were only valuable provided they offered valuable service to the masters. The life of a slave was dependent on the willingness to follow the orders. The narration of the life of Frederick Douglas creates the impression that slaves lived in total submission to their masters;
n Frederick Douglass’ What to the Slave is the 4th of July, he presents a simple yet morally complex argument. In his letter, Douglass states that it is hypocritical for a country to celebrate its freedom and separation from another country, yet still have slavery alive and well in the United States. Morally, this issue is a pretty straightforward argument and the very definition of hypocritical. Douglass also touches upon his belief that all men and women are equal, as stated in the constitution, yet slaves are subhuman. Another topic touched on is the contributing factors that perpetuate the constant and unjust nature of how slaves are treated, such as religion, agricultural, and over all demeanor towards slaves.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, brings to light many of the social injustices that colored men, women, and children all were forced to endure throughout the nineteenth century under Southern slavery laws. Douglass's life-story is presented in a way that creates a compelling argument against the justification of slavery. His argument is reinforced though a variety of anecdotes, many of which detailed strikingly bloody, horrific scenes and inhumane cruelty on the part of the slaveholders. Yet, while Douglas’s narrative describes in vivid detail his experiences of life as a slave, what Douglass intends for his readers to grasp after reading his narrative is something much more profound. Aside from all the physical burdens of slavery that he faced on a daily basis, it was the psychological effects that caused him the greatest amount of detriment during his twenty-year enslavement. In the same regard, Douglass is able to profess that it was not only the slaves who incurred the damaging effects of slavery, but also the slaveholders. Slavery, in essence, is a destructive force that collectively corrupts the minds of slaveholders and weakens slaves’ intellects.
Fredrick Douglass is a great American author. His book the Narrative of the life of Fredrick Douglass makes a compelling and complex argument for the abolition of slavery. One facet of his argument is disproving the idea that slavery is beneficial to the slave. In order to accomplish this Douglass uses a plethora of strategies to persuade his reader. The most poignant method is the vivid descriptions of the brutality of slavery, made all the more powerful by his judicious use of diction, imagery, and specific examples.
A passion for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” remains at the center of America’s civic code. Yet, many Americans remain largely unaware of how the nation gained those “inalienable rights.” To be clear, the ascent of America’s exceptionalism was established through hard fought violence--not civil disobedience. But when it comes to the protests held by people of color, society promotes “civil disobedience.” And even when peaceful protests do occur, white people often react in opposition and criticism. The hypocrisy surrounding civil disobedience has left people of color wondering what is the right way to protest injustice and political corruption.
This work is part of Frederick Douglass book: “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass” at Bedford/St. Martin 's; 2nd edition (December 25, 2002), and it is about Frederick Douglass Experience as a slave in Maryland and does 4th of July meant to a slave.