“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: A day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”

This line was spoken by Frederick Douglass in 1852 as part of his 10,000-word speech, offering a different response to the Fourth of July. The reciting of this speech has become an annual event put on by the Renaissance House and held at Inkwell Beach in Oak Bluffs. Each year, for the past 10, readers add their own flair to the words assigned them.

“We wanted to lend another view to the celebration of a holiday that is losing its strength,” said Abigail McGrath, founder of the Renaissance House.

The Renaissance House began this tradition 10 years ago when Frederick Collins read the speech.  

“The first time we did it, it was a rainy day out on the beach,” Mr. Collins said. “There were about eight of us, but I did the whole speech. It just built up from there.”

This year approximately 20 people took turns reading. A crowd gathered on the beach and the seawall above, sitting shoulder to shoulder on benches, beach chairs and towels.

The speech, despite being 162 years old, has not become outdated.

“It’s important for people to remember the impact of slavery because it’s not only a part of our history, but it’s a part of our present,” said Makani Themba, the organizer of the reading. “The more that we know about Frederick Douglass and people like him, the more we know about resistance and the more inspired we are to be more free and resist against the tyranny that is in our everyday lives.”