This 4th of July, we are once again dedicated to democracy

Me too, I sing America.

i am the dark brother

They send me to eat in the kitchen

When business comes,

But I laugh

And eat well

And become strong.

Tomorrow,

I will be at the table

When the business comes.

No one will dare

Tell me,

“Eat in the Kitchen”

So.

Outraged,

They will see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed—

I too am America.

Langston Hughes, “Me Too”

The first rendition of July 4, sung in 1776 from the scenario of the Declaration of Independence, was written for a small choir. The voices of the Darker Siblings, Native Siblings, and White Sisters were not included in the vocal arrangements and were never intended to receive tracks.

Brilliant men who could imagine an ingenious, if imperfect, form of government could not imagine the richness and talent of the voices they excluded or that races and sexes different from their own should be heard.

But such was the system they created that through suffering and struggle, resistance and revolution, tenacity and talent, these voices took to the stage, enlarging and making the democratic chorus better and fairer. what is America. These voices that resonate across the country have accents, rhythms, brogues and inflections carrying the melodies of the regions and the nuances of culture and heritage.

Yet having to suffer, struggle and resist so often, seeing so many heroes, heroines and allies die to be included in the choir, is tiring and tests your allegiances and your desire to sing. Decisions made by presidents, governors, legislatures and courts that restrict your voice, encroach on your freedom and put you in danger can shake you to your knees – and keep you on your knees in a sign of protest.

Yet we still rise and sing, finding new and creative ways to interpret and expand America’s two great songbooks of democracy so that their lyrics have deeper meaning for all of our lives.

On ExpressNews.com: Clack: the poet’s voice will live on in the world it loved

Prior to a 1968 World Series game in Detroit, Puerto Rican singer-songwriter JoséFeliciano sang a Latin version of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” performing it with moving and painful emotion. His performance was meant as a tribute and show of gratitude to a nation that gave him the opportunity to become a star, but it drew outrage, condemnation and death threats from those who thought their anthem national should only be interpreted conventionally.

Before the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, Marvin Gaye delivered the greatest rendition of the national anthem, layering the song with a Caribbean beat that transformed it into a sultry anthem, a love song to the America, which had the players swaying and the fans cheering. joy. It was less controversial than Feliciano’s, but was still offbeat for those who thought it should only be played one way.

The 4th of July is about the many different voices that make up America’s Democratic Chorus. Voices that interpret the country’s history, tell its many stories – good and bad – through their own experiences, melodies and rhythms.

But this July 4 comes as many Americans feel their voices are being ignored or targeted for silence, and the democracy we celebrate has never seemed so fragile, literally under attack.

This 4th of July comes knowing how far a sitting President of the United States and his crowd would go to overturn an election and the collective voice of American voters.

This 4th of July comes with an ongoing assault on the right to vote.

This 4th of July arrives with women, more than half of the population of the United States, having fewer rights and voices over their bodies than they had last 4th of July.

It’s a 4th of July not just for celebration but for reflection and rededicating ourselves to what we are meant to celebrate.

It’s a 4th of July to find and raise our voices and ensure our inclusion in the American Democratic chorus.

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