A Declaration of Independence by a Princeton Professor


In Congress, on July 4th, 1776, came the unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America. Signed by 56 men, many of whom were considered national heroes just a few minutes ago, it opens with a long and elegant sentence whose first words every American child knows, or used to: When in the Course of human events… In Princeton, New Jersey, on July 4th, 2020, just two hours after my family and I sat around the festive table and read the Declaration aloud in celebration, a group of signatories now in the hundreds published a Faculty Letter to the president and other senior administrators at Princeton University. This letter begins with the following blunt sentence: Anti-Blackness is foundational to America. One important difference between the two documents might wrongly be dismissed as merely cosmetic. In 1776 there were united States but there was not yet the United States; in these past two months, by contrast, at a time when we are increasingly un-united, black has become Black while white remains white. I am friends …

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