Beasley to Speak at Frederick Douglass Event

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By Staff Reports

Mayor Lydia Lavelle will host the eighth annual community reading of Frederick Douglass’ essay, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro.” The community reading will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 4, at Carrboro Town Commons, 301 W. Main St. The community reading will also be livestreamed at

Providing opening remarks for the program will be former N.C. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, the first African American woman to serve as chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court. Currently, Justice Beasley is running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate. Justice Beasley started her legal career as a public defender in Cumberland County. In 1999, she was appointed as a state District Court judge and won elections for the position in 2002 and 2006. When she won a seat on the N.C. Court of Appeals in 2008, she became the first Black woman to win a statewide election. 

On July 5, 1852, abolitionist and orator Frederick Douglass delivered a scathing speech on slavery — its title commonly identified as “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?” — that still echoes today. In his provocative speech, Douglass said, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” It took 13 years after the speech for slavery to be abolished — 89 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence

The Douglass speech is available at

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