When I told a friend I was writing about freedom for this 4th of July Perspective, she said it was funny I should mention this on June 19th.
As an African American, she recognizes this date as Independence Day -- the day in 1865 when word of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation that put an end to slavery reached the last outpost of Texas.
I'm proud to live in the Land of Lincoln, but I'm enraged and disgusted by the so-called leaders of our country who model racism and embolden acts of hatred.
I recalled a line from the late Dr. Martin Luther King: "No one is free until we are all free." Upon researching the quote, I discovered a similar one from the 1800s by poet and scholar Emma Lazarus. "Until we are all free, we are none of us free,” she declared in response to the anti-Semitic pogroms that were sweeping Eastern Europe.
I had never heard of Emma Lazarus but learned that she penned these words, which appear on a plaque inside the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal:
"… Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. …”
Our current moment in history is steeped in extreme irony and hypocrisy. Most Americans are immigrants. Our President's mother was, and two of his three wives have been. And, while I feel privileged to live in this country, its promise of freedom to all is gravely threatened.
We all have a responsibility to rise to the occasion.
I'm Paula Garrett, and that's my perspective.