Renaissance House Writers Retreat's Frederick Douglass July 4 Speech on Martha's Vineyard Public TV

Due to COVID Restrictions. the 2021 group reading of Frederick Douglass' speech, What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?, was taped for Martha's Vineyard Public TV broadcast. Inkwell Beach event is cancelled.
By: Renaissance House
 
 
Abigail McGrath photo by Christine Sargologos
Abigail McGrath photo by Christine Sargologos
MARTHA'S VINEYARD, Mass. - July 1, 2021 - PRLog -- Due to COVID restrictions, there's a change in a Martha's Vineyard Black History tradition. For over 21 years, Renaissance House Retreat for Writers & Artists has produced the famous Frederick Douglass speech, What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?, on Martha's Vineyard's Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs on July 4.

The July 4 popular group reading continues through volunteer readers' pre-recorded speech. The reading will be shown on Martha's Vineyard Public Television on July 4.

"I'm asking people to NOT show up on Inkwell Beach on July 4 for our annual reading. Crowds are still not permitted on the beach," said Abigail McGrath, founder of Renaissance House.  "Instead, I would like to invite the public to watch the amazing pre-recorded group reading on MVTV on July 4."

In the program, readers of all ages bring the words of Frederick Douglass to life. Each reader recited different sections of the 10,000-plus word address that Douglass wrote during American slavery in 1852. It's been 169 years since Frederick Douglass delivered his Fourth of July speech in  Rochester, New York. The message resonates during today's turbulent political era.

The director-editor-producer of Renaissance House's annual Frederick Douglass speech is Makani Themba, a veteran social justice innovator and pioneer in the field of change communications and narrative strategy for coalitions and philanthropic institutions.

"I am continually inspired by Frederick Douglass' speech--especially the context in which he gave it. Imagine a Black man, more than 160 years ago, saying to an all-white audience what politicians of any color wouldn't dare say today. And, in the era of slavery to boot," explained Themba.  "The speech is so incredibly fresh. It speaks to contemporary issues of injustice and standing up for justice when it is unpopular to do so.  We all need this kind of inspiration and also to remember that, in spite of the conditions or the opposition, we can, and we must stand for what's right."

McGrath created this community reading on the beach to celebrate the continuing impact of Frederick Douglass.

"When we were reading it at the Inkwell Beach, an historically Black swimming area, the emotions and not so hidden agenda resonated with a powerful punch," said McGrath. " Although we are not at Inkwell Beach this year, I am happy that the tradition has continued."

Renaissance House supporters include Martha's Vineyard Bank, The Sustainable Arts Foundation and The Mass Humanities.

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