Two hundred and forty-one years ago, America gained its independence from Britain. Since then, July 4 has been celebrated with American flags, parades, fireworks and barbecues. The word “freedom” is often associated with the day.
But freedom for all under the red-white-and-blue flag is a myth. When the Declaration of Independence was signed, it would be nearly 90 years before the end of slavery in America. The end of slavery was followed by Jim Crow, lynching and mass terror against black Americans. Over two centuries later, black Americans, indigenous peoples, undocumented immigrants, queer people of color and more continue to be marginalized in their quests for true freedom in this country.
To mark America’s celebration of “freedom,” I traveled back to my hometown, the birthplace of this nation, to chat with black Philadelphians about what freedom should really look like and whether we should celebrate July 4 at all.