The Fore-Runners Of Wright

A reader writes:

Wright's speeches condemning the United States for racist policies are an updated (although much less elegant) version of Frederick Douglass's famous 1852 speech "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" Here's an excerpt:

"What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy--a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour."

Strong stuff! Comparing the U.S. to "a nation of savages"? Of course, Douglass was condemning an era of slavery, but Wright was referring to just such an inheritance.

And there's also this:

"This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people. 'By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; songs of Zion. How can we sign the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.' (Psalm 137.1-6)...Would you have me argue that man is entitled to liberty? that he is the rightful owner of his own body? You have already declared it. Must I argue the wrongfulness of slavery? Is that a question for Republicans?....How should I look today, in the presence of Americans, dividing, and subdividing a discourse, to show that men have a natural right to freedom?"

When will people accept that strongly worded condemnations of the United States
are a fundamental part of our literary tradition--as they should be of any
vibrant democracy?