Almost 200 years ago, a clear Black voice issued a mighty appeal to Black people in the United States and beyond to unite, become self-determining, and end slavery no matter the cost. In 1829, freedman David Walker published "David Walker’s Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World."
The demands of his well-written pamphlet were as bold and uncompromising as its analysis was exacting, and remarkably true. The essay influenced both pro and anti-slavery efforts, and overtime, gained the distinction of being one of the most influential resistance documents of the 19th century.
Against the 1829 backdrop of Black people being subjected to horrific everyday terror, Walker's Appeal underscored how ending slavery was fundamental to ending the pretense that the United States then functioned as a democracy. Presently, as politicians scramble to affirm the United States is a democracy against the backdrop of Black people being routinely killed by police and subjected to horrific everyday racial inequities, the Appeal can serve as a 2021 reminder that rather than declaration, democracy is a practice.