A Somber Fourth of July

Jul 4, 2024 | PDA News

Fulfillment of the American Experiment Requires Work, Vision, and Faith in Each Other


On the last day of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Delegate James McHenry recorded this anecdote in his journal:

A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy – A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.

In 1852, Frederick Douglass asked the provocative question, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” After nearly 90 years, America’s experiment in democracy did not yet include the Africans kidnapped from their homelands and forced into slavery. It did not include the Native Americans who lived in these lands before Europeans colonized the continent. It did not include the Chinese laborers who built much of the rail infrastructure that revolutionized transportation, and it did not include women who would not gain the right to vote until 1919.

Yet the Fourth of July, 1776, and the subsequent adoption of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, mark the beginning of a great experiment—one with many stumbles and roadblocks along the way (even as the current U.S. Supreme Court appears determined to roll back the clock and overwrite the intent of the Founders)—and the arduous search for a more perfect union.

Prof. Harvey Kaye, historian and sociologist, writes:

We must not only reject the tales and narratives of the right intended to make us forget who we are, what we have accomplished, and what we might yet accomplish, but also reach beyond the all too often cynicism-inducing debunking and deconstruction by the left and to reclaim the truly radical history of America. A history that remains, for all of the exploitation, oppression, and injustices that have marked the nation’s experience, and continue to do so, a progressive, promising, and inspiring one.

With the insurrection of January 6 and recent Supreme Court decisions, we see how fragile our democratic form of government is, and how easily long-held rights and checks and balances can be yanked away by yet another small group of privileged elites. We must cherish our independence, our freedom, and our rights won over the past 248 years, and we must stand up with and for each other to preserve and expand our precious human rights.

PDA has been in this fight since 2004. We stand shoulder to shoulder to preserve and fulfill the American experiment and promise.

In solidarity,

Debra Schrishuhn for the PDA National Team



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