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What to the Slave is the 4th of July?

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I am writing this post on July 4, shortly after writing to the class called Writing and Acting for Change that I am team-teaching at Vermont’s Bread Loaf School of English.  Though it’s a national holiday, Bread Loaf classes meet on the 4th, and though I am not on campus physically right now I am in touch with the class through e-mail, Twitter, and our private class blog.

When I got up this morning, a student in the class had added a similar but much more eloquent post:

A good reminder of the need for embodied action indeed.  In our class, we are reminding ourselves every day that we must go beyond talk to ACT if we intend to create any real change.  Thanks to Frederick Douglass for providing a brilliant example and for giving us food for thought on every 4th of July.

July 7 post_3.png

[Image: Frederick Douglass, by Political Graveyard on Flickr]

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Would that we could focus on the main concept of our indepence and how this eventuated in freedom for ALL. Yes, it was an evolution, yes the slave era was a horrendous time. However, if we keep looking backward, wagging our heads to say "I cannot believe we did this," we will stagnate, as we are currently doing in 2016-more of a regression, and our forward vision is blocked, as is our progress, because we choose to focus on sins of the past, stirring up bitterness and hatred, rather than focussing on a bright future of healing and restoration. Teachers, as I am one, need to focus on taking young minds forward, not instilling guilt and bitterness. I am fortunate to teach internationally, in the most diverse clasrooms. Students often wonder why America cannot get beyond the hated past, and propel into the future with solutions.


Thanks for these thoughts, Barry.  I must say that watching the Republican National Convention has been depressing for me since they are dwelling on the past so very much:  almost nothing about the future except for the usual bromides.  I don't think we can disregard the past:  we need to understand it and learn from it -- and then apply those lessons to the present and future. 

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.