Independence Day will be a quieter affair than usual this year.
The traditional events and fireworks displays hosted by Pinehurst and Aberdeen were called off as a result of statewide COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings; Carthage also canceled its parade and celebration.
However, there are two sponsored events planned for the Fourth of July holiday.
The Frederick Douglass Foundation of NC (FDFNC) will present the 2020 Freedom and Unity Rally on Saturday, July 4, from 2-4 p.m. at Downtown Park in Southern Pines.
Civil rights activist Clarence Henderson, who serves as president of FDFNC, is the keynote speaker. He will be joined by author Shemeka Michelle and Addul Ali, host of the Urban Conservative.
Attendees are asked to be observant of the Governor’s coronavirus recommendations and encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets and food.
The FDFNC promotes a conservative message of faith, school choice and entrepreneurship through speaking events focused on minority areas throughout the state. The event is co-sponsored by “People for Awesome Schools,” an education-oriented nonprofit associated with Moore County Board of Education candidate David Hensley. Hensley is challenging incumbent board member Betty Wells Brown for the District IV seat.
Prior to the rally, the Moore County Republican Women are coordinating a vehicle parade through Pinehurst. Participants in autos, golf carts and bicycles may gather Saturday, July 4, at 9 a.m. on Magnolia Road, near Pinehurst Village Hall.
Clarence Henderson was an early participant in the 1960 Woolworth sit-in protests. An army veteran and now retired from a career in the financial-services industry in Greensboro, he served as chairman of the North Carolina Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission under former Gov. Pat McCrory.
“The Freedom and Unity rally is a celebration of the founding of our country and recognizes our fight for freedom and those who have fought on the front lines,” Henderson said, in a Monday phone interview with The Pilot. “Freedom is never free. There is a price that needs to be paid in full and paid in front.”
"While our nation is going through an unprecedented time of civil strife and a national health crisis, we cannot forget what makes our country exceptional; our belief in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that was stated in our Declaration of Independence. That is why we at the Frederick Douglass Foundation of North Carolina believe it is more vital than ever that we honor those words by recognizing the sacrifice of our servicemen and women along with community leaders."
Henderson said his goal is to pass his passion for liberty to the next generation. He said he is in favor of classical education and school choice, and the right for people to gather for peaceful protest. Conversely, he is concerned about failures in the justice system, particularly when it comes to racial disparity, and violence that has occurred with many recent protests.
“I go across the country trying to let people know that this is a great country, even though it is imperfect.”
According to Valerie Johnson, FDFNC vice president, events like the Freedom and Unity rally are important because “it's the fabric that builds our great nation.”
Frederick Douglass's philosophy stemmed from faith, family, and freedom, she said, and the FDFNC is a grassroots organization that has provided a positive narrative in African American communities for over a decade.
“We believe conservative principles that promote unity and freedom can uplift any community that utilizes them in a peaceful manner,” Johnson said.
Addul Ali said that American freedom is unique in the world and he is excited to celebrate it in “such a beautiful place.”
“Whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an unaffiliated voter, you have a unique opportunity to be a beacon of light,” he said. “This rally is about celebrating American exceptionalism: we have set a standard for what a nation can be.”
Additional 2020 Freedom and Unity rally event information can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/frederickdouglassofnc/