College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Liberal Studies


black emigration, Declaration of Independence, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Jefferson, African American citizenship


The Declaration of Independence declared sovereignty and freedom for America predicated upon the inherent equality and rights of its people. The Declaration also invented a revolutionary expectation and right of protest should government fail to deliver and protect those rights. These rights and self-evident truths, this paper argues, were never extended, or intended, for the nation's Black inhabitants. This underlying hypocrisy has led generations of African Americahs, from the nation's beginning through current day, to careen between hope, desp air, fighting back, deciding to leave, or demanding change. This paper explores the meaning of the Declaration, the experience of black belonging in America, and the deliberation by many African Americans (including the author) to keep the faith in America or to "breakup." ln the end, the paper concludes that revolutionary change, while unlikely, would be required to actually align the nation with its Declaration. ln the meanwhile, Black American bodies pile up, as they always have, bearing the unforgivable cost for unyielding racism and persistent vulnerability.