#NH Communities Read Frederick Douglass @BlackHeritageNH

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass, an abolitionist and heroic orator for liberty, delivered one of his most famous speeches in which he asked, “What to the slave is your Fourth of July?” In addressing an Independence Day observance in Rochester, New York, his speech was a blistering indictment of an American idealism that ignored and accepted the inhuman treatment of enslaved African Americans as part of the country’s identity and economy. Ironically, even though Douglass’ words spoke directly to this moment in history, they still ring with an unsettling power today.

For the past several years, on July 3rd, the BHTNH has collaborated with community leaders around the Granite State to bring people together to read Douglass’ historic protest speech and to reflect on its meaning.

Two Opportunities to Be Involved

In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing requirements, BHTNH has modified delivery of this community event by organizing two opportunities for people to participate:
  • Live in-person community readings at one of the small group gatherings in five towns across the state on Friday, July 3.
  • Watching on TV through our partnership with New Hampshire PBS (NHPBS), which will present 55 leaders from 26 towns “Reading Frederick Douglass.” The taped production will be aired on NHPBS Saturday and Sunday, July 4 + 5.
While reading Frederick Douglass’ work is a powerful experience for many, it is only one piece of the long-overdue conversations that our communities need to have. We hope that these readings will be a starting point for these difficult dialogues and that they will provide an opportunity for us to engage in deeper conversations that will lead to actions to help build more inclusive and just communities today. PLEASE NOTE: BHTNH encourages participants to practice social distancing and to wear masks at these outdoor events.
Please call us at 603-570-8469 for more information.
JULY 3, 2020
  • CLAREMONT | Moody Park, at the pavilion at the top of the hill | 152 Maple Street | 6:00 PM
  • Dover
  • Manchester
  • NASHUA | Nashua Public Library, on the lawn | 12:00 Noon (please bring your own chair)
  • Portsmouth
Views Abridged Version Here (this one used for community read) View Full Speech Here (English) View Full Speech Here (Spanish)

Reading Frederick Douglass

Saturday, July 4, 7:00 pm Saturday, July 4, 10:00 pm Sunday, July 5, 8:30 pm
Episode Duration: 56 minutes and 46 seconds Click here for all broadcast times for this program



The mission of the Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire is to promote awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today. With recent events, this mission is more important now than ever. It is in this spirit we ask you to watch and listen to this virtual reading.