At 10:00 am on July, 4, Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, will host a communal reading of Frederick Douglass’s fiery 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro.”  The shared reading will be followed by a discussion led by Hildene President, Seth Bongartz, and light refreshments. The program is free and members of the community are invited to take part in the communal reading. 

On July 5, 1852, Douglass, a former slave and leading abolitionist, begged the “race question” at an event in Rochester, NY, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  “Fellow-citizens,” he began, “Why am I called upon to speak here to-day?  What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence?  Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?  What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” 

By hosting such events during the celebration of this nation’s independence – its freedom from Great Britain and its tyranny – the community is invited to think about and discuss race and citizenship now, more than a century and a half later. 

Hildene joins the Vermont Humanities Council, Community Change Inc., and others in this statewide effort.  The text of this speech, as well as accompanying materials, are available online at the Vermont Humanities Council website, 
For more information, please contact or 802. 367.7960.