Committing treason, more akin to blasphemy, as they were citizens of a nation still influenced by decades of a belief in ‘divine right’ did not come easily to the Founding Fathers. This belief that kings were appointed by God was waning by 1763 when the British, as a result of really poor management, raised taxes in the colonies resulting in the American Revolution which helped to put an end to divine right altogether.
The Founding Fathers are often referred to as a mono-cultural group, but they were hardly that. The regional, religious, political, and historical diversity of the group that represented 13 distinct governments reviewed and debated 90 declarations before establishing the “Committee of 5” to write what became the Declaration of Independence. The Committee in turn, gave the job to Thomas Jefferson who submitted the first draft on June 28, 1776. After a few days of debate and modification the final document was signed on the Fourth of July, 1776. (This date has been contested by historians, but an almost-final draft of the document was printed and posted on July Fourth.)
The authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence had to agree to disagree if they were to gain their freedom from tyranny. They had to debate deep philosophical and political differences and stay in that room during a sweltering Philadelphia summer until they truly represented unitedstates. The Continental Congress had found enough strongly shared common interests and beliefs to sever their ties to their homeland forever.
The Declaration of Independence Has Six Sections
The Introduction: Which begins “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,”
The Preamble: Another incredible beginning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Indictment: An outline of the offenses the authors claim were committed by the King of England, including “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”
The Denunciation: The justification for the declaration, “Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.:”
The Conclusion: Establishes “That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;.”
The Signatures: This evidence makes it impossible for the 56 signers to deny their commitment to the content of the document.
An Evolving Inclusion Strategic Plan!
Now that the newly formed United States of America declared their independence from
Great Britain they had to make themselves independent in fact. It took another 13 years before George Washington was inaugurated. The fact that the document signed in 1776 excluded the majority of the people under its jurisdiction does not diminish its impact. As we evolved as a nation the words of The Declaration of Independence were used to argue for the enfranchisement of all U.S. Citizens. 87 years dragged on before slavery was abolished. Another 3 years elapsed before former male slaves gained the right to vote. 54 more years passed before women who were U.S. Citizens acquired the right to vote. The powerful words contained in this document are used to assert the rights of people all over the world and act as a catalyst for defending freedom, representation and democracy everywhere.
As you celebrate this holiday, please remember to read The Declaration of Independence and think about where we might be without our diversity and inclusion, in other words, without our independence. The Declaration Of Independence
I am finally launching my first blog! With all of the thought that I give to advancing innovation through increasing inclusion and creating real diversity in the workplace, it has taken me a while to catch up to this innovative means of communication! 😉 Perhaps because writing is an isolated, team-less activity – until I hear from you that is. Once this becomes a dialogue and is no longer a monologue it will be an inclusive activity for me.
I have been in the diversity and inclusion business since 1988 when it was called EEO. Well, I have actually been involved with diversity and inclusion much longer than that. As a child of incredibly diverse parents: my father was from Puerto Rico, where he was born in 1902 and my mother was a New Yorker, although born in Canada in 1928 of Irish, English and German descent. There are nine of us, but we have five half-siblings who are much older than I am, being the second youngest of all. I grew up primarily in a public housing project in Astoria, Queens, NY a neighborhood typical of many port cities in its regular, almost tidal ethnic shift from one dominating group to another. When I was a young girl, the dominant ethnic group was Italian, but immigrants and migrants arrived daily changing the demographic formula of the community.
The riots of the late 1960s left an indelible impression on me of conflict, polarization, marginalization and segregation. Some friends became distant, safe places became dangerous, and school yard fights more frequent. I moved through different worlds: White, Hispanic and others but never belonged fully to any of them. I was intent on defending those poor new kids from other countries whose hand-me-downs of green socks, brown plaid skirts and red blouses screamed, “Bully me!” I was not immune to the attacks of racists however, including the gang of girls who threw a bucket of water mixed with laundry detergent on my sister and me while screaming “You dirty spicks!” My experiences inspired me to help others to navigate the complexities of different cultures.
Future blog entries will include details on the five steps that I have developed to advance inclusion in the workplace; my observations on current events that relate to diversity and inclusion; and excerpts from my upcoming book, Let’s Not Be Polite: 5 Barriers to True Inclusion and How to Overcome Them.
I also want to hear from you. Remember, this needs to be an inclusive exercise! What concerns you about workplace diversity and inclusion? What observations have you made regarding fairness in the workplace? What has your experience been with discrimination or bullying? What do you think of leaders of organizations that you have dealt with?
Back in 1988 when people asked me what my goal was regarding my EEO work I would reply, “To put myself out of business by ending discrimination.” Twenty-five years later, the issues of diversity and inclusion are as deeply entrenched in controversy and debate as they were back then so I no longer harbor such a naïve goal. I remain as committed to diminishing the fear and ignorance that divides us and keeps us from being our best today as I was when I was a 10 year old girl mediating in the school yard. I invite everyone to explore the benefits of real diversity in an inclusive society!