By André Rice - President, Muller & Monroe Asset Management, LLC.
It is very appropriate that we celebrate Juneteenth, a new holiday for many of us, so close to Independence Day. Will this new holiday, this symbol of freedom, induce us to forge a more perfect union, or will it be just another holiday?
Every year around the Fourth of July, I pull out a copy of Frederick Douglass’speech entitled, “What, To the slave, is the Fourth of July?” Mr. Douglass gave this speech on July 5th, 1852, when he was 34 years old and 14 years escaped from slavery.
Douglass said in his famous speech, “The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. This 4th of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”
Where does America find itself these many years later? Does the 4th of July belong to the black man as much as to the white man? Does it belong to the Native Americans as much as to the white man? To our Hispanic brothers and sisters? To our Asian brothers and sisters?
In America’s evolution, I believe the glass is half full. If anyone says that we have not made significant progress in the time that this union has been together, even in my own lifetime, they would be sorely mistaken. There is more to be done, and we must be diligent about making sure that happens. We have an immigration challenge in America because this is the greatest place in the world. It is one of the few places where you can truly start on the bottom rung and move up many rungs.
America is a beautiful dream still being forged in the fire of humanity. It is an imperfect dream struggling to find its footing but moving forward to a better place. It will not get there by itself. It will require all of us to come together to make this dream into reality for everyone.
Twenty years ago, a very close friend named Myrna asked, “Why shouldn’t I as a white person feel that America has done enough for African Americans in this country?” I do recall asking her, “Well, how much good must America do to make up for the bad that white people did to my people for 250 years of slavery and another 100 years of Jim Crow?” The conversation that followed was a respectful discussion. Today, very few would dare ask such questions for fear of being cancelled. In any relationship, if you cannot have an open and candid conversation for fear of offending, you cannot have a real relationship.
Let us hope and pray that America—all of us—will recommit itself to the ideal that “all men [and women] are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
To contact: Muller and Monroe Asset Management
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