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Sunday, July 4 at 10 p.m. BackStory - Independence Daze: A History of July 4th

(Rochester, NY) Everybody knows that July Fourth celebrates our nation’s beginnings. But for the first 94 years of our existence, the Fourth wasn’t an official holiday at all. The Declaration of Independence itself sat untended in a dusty archive for 150 years. So how did Independence Day become the holiest day on our secular calendar? And why do we observe it with hot dogs, fireworks and mattress sales?

In BackStory - Independence Daze: A History of July 4th, airing Sunday, July 4 at 10 p.m. on AM1370/FM-HD91.5-2, the History Guys explore the origins and curiosities of July Fourth. They reveal the holiday’s radical roots, and look at how the Declaration’s meaning has changed over time. They also consider how the Declaration’s messages about liberty and equality have been embraced by the descendents of slaves. And as always, they take calls from BackStory listeners looking to the past to understand the America of today.

Highlights Include:

* Historian Pauline Maier (American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence) contrasts the sections of the Declaration of Independence that mattered to the Founders with the sections that matter today.

* July 4th chronicler James Heintze (The Fourth of July Encyclopedia) recounts the early days of celebrating independence, with a special focus on explosives.

* Historian David Blight (Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee) analyzes Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” widely known as one of the greatest Abolitionist speeches ever.


WXXI is the essential, life-long educational media resource for the Greater Rochester area. WXXI puts the community first with programming that stimulates and expands thought, inspires the spirit, opens cultural horizons and promotes understanding of diverse community issues. Log on to wxxi.org for more information about our services and programs.