Independence Day is when Americans stop to celebrate their freedom. A day usually full of joy, but not felt that way this year by some East Texans.
A time completely different than her childhood, Rhonda Brinkley said the meaning is lost in a time of political turmoil and racial tension.
"If you ask anybody, 'What are you going to do for the Fourth of July?' How many are going to say, 'I'm going to read the Constitution, Bill of Rights or Declaration of Independence?'"
African American advocates in Tyler said racial tension on Independence Day comes from a heated presidential race. President Donald Trump ran on the platform of making America "great again," but advocates said the message was not received the same.
President of the Texas Minority Advisory Council (TMAC) Nile Smith said for some blacks, it means turning back the clock.
"Putting black folk back in their place. Maybe putting them back in the cotton field, or riding on the back of the bus again," Smith said.
The council hosts a radio show every Monday, called the T-Mac show, discussing issues and happenings in the black community. Today's topic: Independence Day.
"It's supposed to mean freedom, but as a black man in America, it doesn't seem like we're just that free," said Carvers Hadnot, a host on the T-Mac show.
As a black man, he said he feels perplexed about celebrating America's birthday.
"Now, don't get me wrong, I'm going to take my day off and pop firecrackers, but the sentiment as it pertains to the heart - I'm going to walk around and I'm still not going to feel free," Hadnot said.
Members of TMAC said despite the racial divide there is a silver lining. They said the East Texas African American community is more unified than ever.
Mixed feelings about Independence Day stretch beyond the African American community. According to PBS, many Latinos question the promise of happiness in the US due to tougher immigration laws.
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