Abolitionist's July 4 Speech: A Reminder Of Suffering

In 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a thought-provoking Fourth of July speech, which was re-enacted Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. Co-host Renee Montagne has the story.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Now a moment to remember a Fourth of July event from many years ago, not 1776 but 1852.

Unidentified Man: Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wails of millions.

MONTAGNE: Those are the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Words he spoke on Independence Day in 1852, reminding Americans that while they celebrated their freedom, others were enslaved.

Unidentified Man: To forget them and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking.

MONTAGNE: The words of abolitionist Frederick Douglass on an Independence Day. The actors we heard were James Brook and Michael Lang, reading at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music here in California.

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