The Fourth of July

Haiku and random thoughts about the American holiday.

Bill Holmes
2 min readJul 4, 2022


Photo by J Dean on Unsplash

Frederick Douglass said

it best: this holiday is

no celebration

For my ancestors

nor me because all men weren’t

created equal

In the eyes of this

nation’s forefathers who saw

us as property.

Copyright © 2020 by Bill Holmes.

All rights reserved.

I wrote the three haiku two years ago after watching Frederick Douglass’s speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” to the Rochester, NY to the Rochester Ladies Antislavery Society on July 5, 1852, which was recited by legendary actor James Earl Jones.

When I was a child, the Fourth of July represented celebrating the American colonies declaring their independence from England. Growing up in Philadelphia, PA, that history was on full display for anyone to see. I remember school and day counseling trips to sites like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It wasn’t until I grew older and truly studied history to discover that all men weren’t created equal. All African Americans were slaves — public property sold the highest bidder — on July 4, 1776.

Although slavery wasn’t legally abolished until the 14th Amendment, it didn’t bring an end to racism. Unfortunately, it’s still alive and present. Racism is a part of American history despite the denial of some who choose to ignore its existence.

In the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Elijah McClain and other countless incidents throughout this nation, it’s difficult for me to celebrate and embrace the Fourth of July where I have to fear for my life every time I step outside my home or whenever I’m driving, and a police vehicle appears in my rearview mirror.

The optimist inside my heart believes that slavery and racism’s legacies don’t have to be components of the United States of America’s future, only if we are willing to 1) make efforts to address injustice whenever it manifests itself and 2) make changes in laws that truly represent that all individuals were created equal despite our cultural differences.



Bill Holmes

Writer. Poet. ESSENCE Best Selling Author. Filmmaker. Personal development aficiando who lives and breathes the mantra "I will not be denied!"