Two hundred forty three years ago this July 4th, the 13 British colonies became the United States of America. Of note is the fact that at that time hundreds of thousands of Spanish and French speaking people lived on the  land that would become the U.S. as we understand it today. Included (and excluded) would be the native Americans and enslaved Africans.

The U.S. is an empire and has been one for most of its history. This is not a judgment. It is a fact.

The U.S. claims dominion over tens of millions of people some of whom can vote and some who cannot vote.

 "Today, the US continues to hold overseas territory. Besides Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and a handful of minor outlying islands, the US maintains roughly 800 overseas military bases around the world", ( How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr.)  Until after World War II the Philippine Islands were  part of our empire.

As we struggle with issues of: "Is Obama an American citizen?", immigration, the dominance of the English language over the Spanish language, and What is the face of a "real American?", it is important to 

know our national and geographic history. "1619: 400 years ago, a ship arrived in Virginia, bearing a human cargo. After having been kidnapped from their villages in what is present-day Angola, forced onto a Portuguese slave ship bound for what Europeans called the New World and stolen from that ship by English pirates in a confrontation off the coast of Mexico, 'some 20. and odd Negroes' landed at Point Comfort in 1619, in the English settlement that would become Virginia." ( E.R. Shipp, winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for commentary) One-hundred-fifty-seven  years before Virginia became a state of the United States, enslaved and free Africans worked this land for generations.  

"Out from the gloomy past, till now we stand at last. True to our God. True to our native land" (from the Black National Anthem written by James Weldon Johnson set to music by John Rosamond Johnson).

Power to the People of God!