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Frederick Douglass Reading

July 6 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Join us to read Frederick Douglass’ most famous speech, originally delivered on July 5, 1852. Declining to speak on the 4th of July, Douglass instead castigated the United States for decades of slavery and injustice. Come and add your voice to this statewide public reading sponsored the Vermont Humanities Council and Brown n’ Out.
In 1852, Frederick Douglass, one of our nation’s greatest orators and abolitionists, was asked to speak at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In his provocative speech, Douglass refused and said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” And he asked, “Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?”
Instead, he delivered his powerful condemnation of American hypocrisy – “What to the slave is the 4th of July” – on July 5. His words ring true more than 150 years later, and the speech is widely considered to be his best.
Douglass’ speech remains emotionally powerful, thought-provoking and relevant more than a century and a half after he gave it. The Vermont Humanities Council is supporting groups and communities statewide to organize public participatory readings of his compelling speech on or close to July 4 each year.
This Burlington event is put on with the support of many individuals and organizations. If you or your organization would like to get involved connect with Kina at or 863-2345 x9.


July 6
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Peace & Justice Center


Burlington City Hall
149 Church St.
Burlington, 05401 United States
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If you would like to volunteer at any of the Peace & Justice Center’s events, please email If you have more questions, contact us at or (802) 863-2345 x 6.