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The Truth About the 4th of July and How to Teach Its Whole History

The grandeur of fireworks, cookouts, grill smoke, sweet tea, family, friends, and so many more fond ideas come to mind for many of us as we think of that one summer holiday that’s happily celebrated by many U.S. Americans. Some of us call it “Independence Day.” Others of us call the holiday “The 4th of July.”

On this day every year, we commemorate when the founding fathers of this nation declared their freedom from what they considered an oppressive regime. They were declaring freedom and national sovereignty by separating from the oppression of being taxed financially without the benefit of representation for their paid taxes. So, they wrote “The Declaration of Independence.”

Be Honest

Good for them—they exonerated themselves. But in those moments, as they were confidently rebelling and rioting for freedom, about 75 percent of them were simultaneously and deeply engrossed in exacting one of the most uniquely oppressive slavery systems known to man, chattel slavery. No, more specifically, U.S. American chattel slavery. It would be another 143 years before women—half of the country—would have the right to vote as citizens. And, let us never forget the beautiful Native Americans who lost their land through deceitful treaty after deceitful treaty and many other tragic, even fatal means.

Freedom is a framework for godliness. But these men, at least about 3 out of 4 of them, were “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Timothy 3:5a). As we read in “The Declaration of Independence:”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

This looks so good. Yes! It looks so good… on paper. And yet:

“But all we say to America is, ‘Be true to what you said on paper.’”

Martin Luther King, Jr. said those famous words  about 24 hours prior to his assassination in 1968.

Be ‘Woke’

The 4th of July is celebrated for many reasons, and we sincerely hope that peace, joy, and good fun will mark your celebrations. However, let us be consciously aware, and by consciously aware, I mean “woke.” And just in case you had some idea of Marxism or dangerous thinking come to mind simply because I used the word “woke,” please allow me.

Merriam Webster defines woke – \wōk\ adj., as a term first being popularized in the 1970s that means: “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).” This is no Marxist-originating concept. As a matter of fact, the root of the idea of being “woke” can be found in an ancient unity that was and is established by God to this day.

In the first century A.D., a man named Paul, a follower (by this I mean actual practicer) of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, wrote about the Lord’s Supper, which is the ritual of heart-targeted examination and remembrance of the greatest act of justice. This ritual is publicly practiced by professing believers of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus exemplified the greatest act of redemptive social justice, by dying for the wrongdoings and by being the most prized participant in His original concept of justice on behalf of anyone who would trust Him with their whole selves, in word and in deed. Paul explains the result of partaking in this ritual while not being “discerning” both the nature and implications of Jesus’ work on the cross:

“That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 11:30).

I hope you can appreciate the nuance in what I mean by using the popular word “woke.” Let us be “woke,” that is, unified, as we celebrate a holiday that has only endured very little powerful public scrutiny as it relates to the high level of hypocrisy that it represents to the ones who literally lost their lives and lineage and were robbed of being counted among the free.

Not only for this holiday but for all of history, we need to be committed to teaching our children the holistic narrative of history and other subjects that have traditionally shown inaccurate portrayals of reality by both omission and commission.

Teach Your Kids Holistically

If we want to be truly classical and critical thinkers, we must understand that our foundational thinking on the matter must be addressed if we have any hope of getting dialectic or rhetorical within the conversations and resulting actions of teaching the next generation under the banner of Jehovah-Nissi who reigns now and forever as our victory over any craftiness or confusion that may be tightly tucked into a common holiday.

Not only for this holiday but for all of history, we need to be committed to teaching our children the holistic narrative of history and other subjects that have traditionally shown inaccurate portrayals of reality by both omission and commission.

As we are nearing the 4th of July/Independence Day holiday, we wanted to provide some resources that may be helpful in sharpening and/or broadening the most popular U.S. American ideas surrounding this holiday. Please enjoy, educate, pray, and humble yourself. Trust all the while that there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother, who is faithful to handle all of our emotions, realizations, and humility. Please allow these resources to help you navigate how you will learn about The 4th of July/ Independence Day for yourself and how you will teach it in your homes.


Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in The Rest of the Story: a More Inclusive Approach to CC, a Facebook Group primarily intended for supplementing parents implementing Classical Conversations curricula with resources that highlight the stories and achievements of underrepresented groups. The article and resources were provided by the Administrator team of the Facebook Group.     

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Erika Brayboy Collier
Erika Brayboy Collier
Erika Brayboy Collier is an agent, activist, and artist wth a 15-year background in education and the arts. Erika spends much of her days homeschooling, with an emphasis on character education & holistic historic narratives. You can follow her on Twitter @ErikaBCollier.


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