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Tipsheet

Ted Cruz Schools Kaepernick on His Quote From Frederick Douglass Speech

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File

Sen. Ted Cruz gave Colin Kaepernick a history lesson on Thursday after the former San Francisco 49ers player posted a quote from abolitionist Frederick Douglass on Independence Day. 

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“What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? This Fourth of July is yours, not mine…There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour,” Kaepernick tweeted, quoting from Douglass’s “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech, which was delivered on July 5, 1852 to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society in upstate New York. 

The passage was presented along with a video that included longer segments of the speech while showing images of slaves and the Civil War era interspersed with video of police using force against African-Americans.  

“You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass,” Sen. Cruz wrote in response, “but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand.”

The Texas Republican proceeded to give Kaepernick “two critical points.”

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“This speech was given in 1852, before the Civil War, when the abomination of slavery still existed. Thanks to Douglass and so many other heroes, we ended that grotesque evil and have made enormous strides to protecting the civil rights of everybody,” Cruz tweeted. 

As for Cruz’s second point: “Douglass was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery. Indeed, he concluded the speech as follows:

“Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country.

“There are forces in operation, which must inevitably, work the downfall of slavery. ‘The arm of the Lord is not shortened,’ and the doom of slavery is certain.

“I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope. While drawing encouragement from ‘the Declaration of Independence,’ the great principles it contains, and the genius of American Institutions, my spirit is also cheered by the obvious tendencies of the age.”

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In conclusion, Cruz said everyone should read the speech in its entirety. 

“It is powerful, inspirational, and historically important in bending the arc of history towards justice,” he said.

The exchange comes after Nike pulled an Independence Day themed sneaker featuring the Betsy Ross flag because Kaepernick complained they were offensive. 

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