Is this the land your Fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the earth whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?

from Frederick Douglass – What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July? on Rap Genius

Meaning

From the 1835 poem “Stanzas for the Times,” by American poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Whittier wrote the piece after speakers at a pro-slavery meeting in Boston’s Faneuil Hall proposed restrictions on free speech to try to shut up abolitionist protesters. The poem begins:

Is this the land our fathers loved,
The freedom which they toiled to win?
Is this the soil whereon they moved?
Are these the graves they slumber in?
Are we the sons by whom are borne
The mantles which the dead have worn?

Notice how Douglass pointedly changes the pronoun from “our” to “your,” making the lines more accusatory and emphasizing blacks' separation from white America.

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