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In a chilling video depicting images of American slaves side-by-side with violent footage from nationwide protests, Daveed Diggs channels the words of Frederick Douglass.
“What to my people is the Fourth of July?” Diggs asks.
The video, inspired by Douglass’ 1852 speech What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?, sees the Hamilton star questioning where Black Americans and people of color fit into Fourth of July celebrations. Diggs continues to bring attention to the sacrifices Black people have made for America, as a somber rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” scores the juxtaposing collection of protest videos and Fourth of July imagery.
Diggs joined Gayle King on CBS This Morning to discuss the powerful video and Douglass’ poignant words. The Snowpiercer actor said that the video contextualizes the feelings around the Black Lives Matter movement and “the desire to hold America accountable.” He said added that it encourages Black people and people of color in America to think about where they fit into the country’s history.
“As we reflect on the moment on the Fourth of July and what we’re celebrating, this idea of independence, it’s complicated for Americans of color to figure out how we fit in that celebration,” he said.
During the Friday morning interview, Diggs brought attention to his own experiences with discrimination and law enforcement. From ages 22 to 25, Diggs said police stopped him around 40 times, but never game him a ticket. He also recalled being confronted by the police before he moved to Los Angeles to perform Hamilton.
“I got snatched off of my bicycle by police officers and thrown up against a fence because I fit a description,” he said.
He went on to say that the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-police brutality protests are not aimed at specific officers but rather at a system “that is trained to treat Black life differently.”
Toward the end of the interview, Diggs and King discussed Hamilton, which started streaming on Disney+ on Friday, and how the Broadway smash can lead to reflection.
“There’s a great sense of patriotism that comes along with watching that show and I think that’s something important to think about, today especially,” he said.
Watch the video and the full interview below.
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