Black People Created American Democracy
On July 4, 1776, America declared its independence and became a self-described democratic nation with a simple motto:
All men are created equal
Yet native tribes who had already lived in North America for over 10,000 years (not a typo) had little rights and were not allowed to vote in elections of this newly formed beacon of freedom. Not until 1924!
Women were not allowed to vote.
Nor were Black people.
In a half dozen Southern states, Jews were prohibited from voting. Even Catholics weren’t allowed to vote in places like South Carolina.
Not much of a democracy, if we’re being intellectually honest.
“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence didn’t apply to many. Especially to Black people, most of whom were enslaved.
Yet more than any other group, Black patriots fought to turn America into an actual democratic country.
Since the first enslaved African arrived on America’s shores in 1526 (not 1619), Black people have fought relentlessly for freedom and democracy on this continent while few others have.
Countless Black thinkers and fighters for freedom fought day in and day out to help America live up to its stated ideals.
People like Nat Turner, Sojourner Truth, Denmark Vesey, and Frederick Douglass.
Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois relentlessly fought for the development of American democracy. He exposed the “Double Consciousness” of American society and predicted that until America grappled with race, it would be one of the defining issues of the 20th century.
Black intellectual Raymond Pace Alexander argued that “cultural democracy is an important, inescapable corollary of political and social democracy and it involves an open door and the full acceptance of minority contributions and for the full recognition of the minority contributors.”
Alexander, who became a judge in Pennsylvania, knew that a country could not be fully democratic until it guaranteed full rights for all its citizens.