Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz responded to Colin Kaepernick on Thursday after the former NFL quarterback misleadingly posted an excerpt of Frederick Douglass’s famed speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”
“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 wrote, quoting a speech that Douglass delivered on July 5, 1852 to the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Society.
“You quote a mighty and historic speech by the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, but, without context, many modern readers will misunderstand,” Cruz replied, adding that he missed “two critical points.”
The Texas senator explained that the speech was delivered prior to the Civil War, and unlike today, slavery was still present in society.
“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 said.
Accompanying the passage, Kaepernick included a montage of images depicting historic slavery in America intertwined with modern-day videos of police brutality against Black Americans.
“Douglass was not anti-American; he was, rightly and passionately, anti-slavery,” Cruz said, noting the conclusion to the aforementioned speech.
Accordingly, Douglass stated that despite portraying a “dark picture” of America he did not “despair of this country.” Rather, he was optimistic about the inevitable downfall of slavery.
“I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope,” Douglass said. “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.”
Kaepernick ignited a firestorm on Monday after Nike revealed the company was recalling Air Max 1 USA sneakers because a Revolutionary War-era version of the flag was stitched on the heel. The decision was reportedly made after Kaepernick complained that the Betsy Ross flag was a symbol of the slave era and considered offensive.
Kaepernick, who is endorsed by Nike, gained notoriety by kneeling during the national anthem to protest systematic racism in America.
“Let me encourage everyone, READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH,” Cruz said. “It is powerful, inspirational, and historically important in bending the arc of history towards justice.”