Recorded October 20, 2020
Demanding Freedom: Attucks and the Abolition Movement reflects on how 19th century abolitionists revived Crispus Attucks’s memory in their fight to end slavery. Abolitionists of the era presented Attucks as the first martyr of the Revolution who died fighting for liberty, an image that resonated powerfully in a nation that placed millions of African Americans in bondage despite its stated ideal of freedom. In the conversation, we will place the work of abolitionists into a contemporary setting by reflecting on the obstacles that persist to today when Americans are asked to live up to the founding promises of freedom and liberty for all.
- Christopher Bonner, Assistant Professor for the History Department in the University of Maryland, College Park, and the author of Remaking the Republic: Black Politics and the Creation of American Citizenship.
- Kellie Carter Jackson, Knafel Assistant Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, and the author of Force & Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence.
- Natalie Joy, Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University, who has researched connections between Native Americans and abolitionists in the 19th century.
- Stephen Kantrowitz, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the author of More than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889.
This event is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute.
Reflecting Attucks is a virtual exhibit that explores the memory of Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native descent who was the first to die at the Boston Massacre, an act of protest widely viewed as a turning point on the road to American Revolution.
Over the next several months, we will delve into Attucks’s world and look at how generations of Americans have seen their own reflection in the image of Attucks standing in the face of fierce opposition. By remembering him as a martyr, leader and courageous fighter, they fueled freedom movements that changed the course of history.
More from Reflecting Attucks
- VIDEO | Grief, Remembrance, JusticeAn exploration of how our memories of the legendary Boston activist Melnea Cass can help us channel grief into a call for lasting change.Read more →
- VIDEO | Attucks and the Birth of a NationJAN 27: How William Monroe Trotter, a prominent Black Boston activist, protested the white nationalist film by invoking the memory of Crispus Attucks.Read more →
- VIDEO | Monumental AttucksNOV 10: African American leaders in late 19th century Boston fought to create a lasting monument to Crispus Attucks on Boston Common.Read more →
- VIDEO | Demanding Freedom: Attucks and the Abolition Movement19th presented Attucks as the first martyr of the Revolution who died fighting for liberty, an image that resonated powerfully with those seeking emancipation for African Americans.Read more →
- Video | Imagining AttucksExplores how Attucks has been interpreted through the years and grapples with the challenges that come with bringing Attucks to life.Read more →
- Video | Liberty & Sovereignty in 18th Century New EnglandExamining the political conversations that were taking place around the time of the Boston Massacre among white colonists and the African- and Native-descended communities.Read more →