NPR Breaks With Traditional July 4th Reading of Declaration of Independence and Instead Examines Meaning of ‘Equality’


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Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep typically celebrates July 4th with an annual reading of the Declaration of Independence to his loyal listeners on NPR. For 2022’s Independence Day, however, this 33-year tradition ended, and instead an 11-minute segment that examined “what equality meant in this document” as described by co-host Leila Fadel via Twitter.

Why is this day different from the past Fourths of July in the eyes of NPR producers?  Well frequent listeners of NPR’s Morning Edition know that there has been great, and understandable, concern regarding the Supreme Court Justice ruling to ostensibly overturn the landmark 1973 reproductive rights decision, Roe v. Wade,  which immediately made abortion procedures illegal in over a dozen states.

Since 1988, NPR staff members read aloud the Declaration of Independence, but this year the segment focused on one specific phrase in that document “all men are created equal,” and what that exactly meant at the time (when many of those who signed the Declaration of Independence were slaveholders) and women did not get the right to vote until 1920.

Two Pulitzer Prize-winning historians joined to discuss the history of the Declaration of Independence and the founding principle, “All men are created equal”: Harvard Law Professor Annette Gordon-Reed and Harvard Historian Jill Lepore.  

Listen below to the 11 minute discussion that will likely be viewed as some sort of political protest statement by those looking for such a thing, but in reality, is just a very well-informed discussion focused on our nation’s history.


This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Colby Hall is the Founding Editor of He is also a Peabody Award-winning television producer of non-fiction narrative programming as well as a terrific dancer and preparer of grilled meats.