Stepping outside, we are greeted with the pungent aroma of ribs on the gill. Beer is chilling in the cooler. The kids’ squealing voices combine with the splashing of water in the backyard pool. Fourth of July: it’s all about the barbeque.
Between the potato salad and the roasted corn, how many of us think about the meaning of the holiday? We take our independence and freedom so much for granted, that we rarely give pause for a moment of thanks.
As a child in grade school, I was very patriotic, drawing colorful pictures of flags, and marching in the parade. When I was eight, I didn’t realize that July fourth only marked the freedom of my European ancestors. The country may have been free from England, but my African ancestors were not free from slavery. They served the masters roast pork and returned to the slave quarters for a supper of pigs’ feet—scraps then, delicacies today.
Perhaps September 22 should be the African American barbeque day, for that date marked the Emancipation Proclamation when Black folk were officially freed. Or maybe we should barbeque on January 15, the birthdate of Martin Luther King Jr., without whom the Civil Rights Movement would not have been birthed.
Despite historical inequalities, many wrongs have been made right since our country’s darkest hours. As we strive to be “one nation under God, indivisible,” let us reflect on what independence and freedom mean to each and every one of us. Let’s all get out the grills on the same date and unite in celebration on July 4. After all, it’s really not about the barbeque.
written by Amy Bryant, Safety Harbor resident blogger
Author of You CAN Go Home Again