Struggles and fireworks

It’s that time of year when Americans of all cultures and creeds take the day off (if they can) to barbecue, watch fireworks and maybe drink a few beers or soft drinks.

It’s the Fourth of July, a time to celebrate America — our history, and our future.

The history of the American people is a history of struggle and progress. The American Revolution established the world’s first democratic republic. Yet it was a flawed one, stained by slavery, extermination of Native Americans, suppression of women, and class oppression

But, while the tasks of establishing a just society weren’t finished, neither was the struggle for progress. The American people went on to overthrow slavery in the Civil War — often referred to as the Second American Revolution — and then to secure the rights of African Americans and women to vote and to end Jim Crow segregation.

American working people built a massive labor movement in the 1930s, one that is resurgent today. They fought for and won sweeping social reforms such as public education, wage and hour laws, ending child labor, health and safety measures and environmental protection.

The struggle to protect and extend civil rights and liberties is as old as the birth of the republic, and continues sharply today. From the beginning, this was a nation of immigrants as well as native-born. From the beginning too, there have been struggles to make our country a beacon of multi-ethnic, multinational inclusiveness.

While the ruling class has often involved this country in immoral wars, the American people often rise to stop them. Such was the case with the Vietnam War, and such is the case with the Iraq war today.

We can see this tradition continuing today. Most strikingly, we’ve seen millions of people of all races and nationalities, young and old, male and female, cast their ballots either for the first African American or the first woman president in our history.

We saw more than 60,000 people, mainly white, pour into the streets in Oregon to support Obama — the largest political rally in our nation’s history. And we seem poised to elect our first Black president and oust the ultra-right.

So let’s celebrate our country and struggle: past, present and future.