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Friday, November 12, 2010

Polish Independence Day

It's funny ... I am feeling like a foreigner today because I am not Polish. I often have the same feeling whenever I am in the States for Independence Day. As a Black man, I really have mixed feelings about celebrating Independence Day in the US. The country was declared independent on that day long ago, but my people were not. We had some time to go before the word "freedom" had any real meaning.

I still think about this whenever I celebrate "Independence". Much has changed, of course, and I have had to give thought to what "independence" means to me. As I continue my journey in Warsaw, I realize that I am not so independent here. I do not speak the language yet, so I am completely dependent upon others in many situations. This is a good example of how focus and determination will make me more independent. Freedom has to be earned .


  1. I thought you might like to know that some Black people, including Americans, actually fought for Poland's independence.

    See for example Jean Lapierre here:

    There was also General Władysław Jabłonowski. He was the son of an English lady and her Black servant. She gave birth in Gdańsk. The boy was adopted by Konstanty Jabłonowski, a nobleman, who sponsored his education in a French military school. Władysław was promoted to the rank of General in the Polish Army. He fought in the Kościuszko Insurrection and the Polish Legion during the Napoleonic Wars.

    Also, during the Polish-Soviet war of 1920 kids of the Poles who emigrated to the US in the late 19th century came to Poland to join our army. Some of them were Black.

    Hopefully, the next year you'll think of the Independence Day as yours too. Especially that, unlike in the US, it marks not only independence from Poland's enemies, but also equal rights of all citizens, no matter their colour, ethnicity, religion or sex.

    The motto of Kościuszko and other Polish freedom fighters was "For our freedom and yours". They hoped that via mutual support the oppressed of the world would unite and free themselves from their oppressors.

  2. One more link.

    Kościuszko left all his money earned in the US to Jefferson who was supposed to use it to free and educate as many slaves as possible. They were to be given their own land, tools and animals so that they could become free farmers and good citizens, not dependent on their white neighbours. Unfortunately, Jefferson didn't keep his word.

    You can read about Kościuszko's Will here:

    "Friends of Liberty: A Tale of Three Patriots, Two Revolutions, and the Betrayal that Divided a Nation: Thomas Jefferson, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull"

    Agrippa Hull was one of Kościuszko's Black compatriots during the American Revolution. Kościuszko is Poland's greatest revolutionary hero, and a symbol of liberty and freedom fighting.