For over 240 years we have wrestled with fulfilling the Declaration of Independence’s promises of liberty and equality. The challenges are with us still: to secure liberty, to ensure equality before the law, to provide the means for all to pursue their full potential and their happiness. The Declaration is a living document: it draws its vitality from each generation’s pursuit of liberty and equality. And pursue them we must.
Does liberty apply to slaves, equality to women? What are the rights of immigrants? Is equal justice ensured across races? Across religious creeds? Do all have an equal voice and equal power of representation? What does equality mean in a society divided by class and wealth? Does poverty jeopardize liberty? Does liberty imply essential rights to health, education, and welfare? Under what conditions do we forfeit the promised rights to liberty and equality? When our government falls short of ensuring liberty and equality, what redress do we have for our grievances, and how do we exercise that?
We are heirs of this obligation to redeem the promises of the Declaration of Independence. How are we doing?
from the script by Mary Babson Fuhrer for the Freedom’s Way/Lexington Historical Society presentation on “Declaring Liberty,” read by Professor Emeritus William Fowler, Jr.