Race, Religion, and the Pursuit of Happiness
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The Declaration of Independence guarantees that all persons under its purview are entitled to the pursuit of happiness. It does not promise that this happiness will necessarily be achieved, but that to pursue it is an inalienable right. This promise is funded by the “social contract” that exists among free and equal persons. This contract does not define happiness per se, but its application to collective life in the United States suggests that there are three major trajectories to happiness. Ironically, these same trajectories had to be framed in a manner that excluded people of African and Native American descent as participants in the national conversation, while demanding that they submit to the authority of that contract. Life and liberty are construed as foundational to the pursuit of happiness for free and equal persons.
KeywordsSocial Contract Presidential Election Black People National Conversation Black Folk
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