For the third year in a row, a community oration of Frederick Douglass’s historic 1854 speech, “What to the slave is the Fourth of July?,” will be held in Annville.

More than three dozen community members will take turns delivering the speech over about 90 minutes. The event will begin at noon on Monday, July 4, with attendees encouraged to come earlier for casual conversation before the event begins.

This free event is being organized by the Lebanon County Branch of the NAACP and will be held on the academic quad on the campus of Lebanon Valley College.

Organizers noted that the date of the event will be one day before the 170th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ original delivery of the speech in Rochester, New York, at an event sponsored by the Rochester Ladies’ Anti-Slavery Sewing Society.

“Our Frederick Douglass Community Oration is but one element in our ongoing efforts to build and sustain an antiracist movement here in Lebanon County and South Central Pennsylvania,” said Pastor Tony Fields, president of the Lebanon County branch of the NAACP, in a press release.

“We as a nation have a solemn obligation to remember our shared history, and so we are grateful to all of our community orators, and to Lebanon Valley College for hosting this solemn and celebratory act of public remembrance.”

Security will be provided by Lebanon Valley College’s Public Safety Office in collaboration with Annville police. Free parking will be available on North College Avenue and Walnut Street, as well as in the municipal lot at 36 N. Lancaster St.

Attendees are asked to bring their own refreshments if desired.

Watch a video of last year’s oration below.


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