Frederick Douglass - Independence Day Skit (Electronic Download)

Frederick Douglass - Independence Day by Pamela R. Smith
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  • Item #: FrederickDouglassIndependenceDay

New Release: Frederick Dougalss - Independence Day

This skit is a glimpse of the famous speech Frederick Douglass delivered to a room full of prominent men and women, including the President on our nation's 1852 Fourth of July celebration.


 Frederick Douglass (Era 1852)                              Estimated Time: 27 - 30 min w/songs

  • Frederick Douglass (giving excerpts of his famous speech  “What to the Negro is the Fourth of July- he was about 35 in this era)
  • Audience  (of prominent leaders – or you may elect to have just a spotlight on Douglass)
  • Prominent White Male (seen or just voice heard – only has one line)
  • Narrator 
  • Choir

 Setting: There are visible signs of “Independence Day” “Fourth-of-July” Formal setting. Nice tables with well-dressed men (Standing at lectern.  Dressed in a black suit.  He is about 35 years old in this era, see the younger version of him above.  An elegant and excellent speaker. He makes gestures as needed to keep the audience engaged. He is a great, experienced orator. The person who plays this role need to be charismatic, animated, and engaging) You can have a few tables around the room of attendees or you can have him speaking to the audience. If you are able, it would be great to set the stage up with the tables and attendees; keep in mind that blacks in attendance would be servants and not seated at a table. The President and many prominent leaders were there;  if not just have a podium and have the stage decorated with banners celebrating Independence Day.

Narrator: (off to the side, but visible) Mr. Frederick Douglass was born a slave but escaped to freedom in New York in 1838. With the encouragement of William Lloyd Garrison, a well-known Caucasian who fought for the emancipation of slaves and truly believed in equality, Douglass became a well-respected and well-known advocate against slavery, as well as a profound author. He boldly lectured all across the country. Even whites held him in high regard, so much so that in 1852 Douglass was invited to give a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His speech has been titled “What to the Negro is the Fourth of July?” After the choir sings, please listen as he gives us excerpts from his now famous speech.


PRICE INCLUDES: Lyrics, and some Sheet Music (16 PAGES)



DOUGLASS: The fact is, ladies and gentlemen, the distance between this platform and the slave plantation from which I escaped, is considerable and the difficulties to be overcome in getting from the latter to the former are by no means slight. That I am here today is, to me, a matter of astonishment as well as of gratitude.

The purpose of this celebration is the 4th of July—the birthday of your National Independence and of your political freedom. This, to you, is what the Passover was to the emancipated people of God....


DOUGLASS: The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men too—great enough to give fame to a great age. ....They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory.

(looking around the room at the banners) ..... Banners and pennants wave exultingly on the breeze. Prayers are made, hymns are sung, and sermons are preached in honor of this day.

(brief pause as he glances around the room) Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice embodied in that Declaration of Independence extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Gentleman from the audience: ( shouts): He’s ruining the event!

DOUGLASS: "Is this the land your Fathers loved,   The freedom which they toiled to win?...

By an act of the American Congress, not yet two years old, slavery has been nationalized in its most horrible and revolting form. New York has become as Virginia; and the power to hold, hunt, and sell men, women, and children as slaves remains no longer a mere state institution, but is now an institution of the whole United States.

....For black men there are neither law, justice, humanity, nor religion. The Fugitive Slave Law makes mercy to them a crime; and bribes the judge who tries them. An American judge gets $10 for every victim he consigns to slavery, and $5, when he fails to do so....

....Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented of the state of the nation, (slight smile, much sincerity) I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation, which must inevitably work. The downfall of slavery.  

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