Recorded January 27
In 1915, D.W. Griffith released his racist film The Birth of a Nation, which celebrated white Southern violence against formerly enslaved people at the end of the Civil War, and led directly to the creation of the new Ku Klux Klan.
“Attucks & the Birth of a Nation” explores how William Monroe Trotter, a prominent Black Boston activist, protested the film by invoking the memory of Crispus Attucks, a man of Black and Native descent who was the first to fall at the Boston Massacre: Attucks’s sacrifice proves that people of color were present at the true birth of the nation. In the panel, we will also delve into how both African Americans and Native Americans at the start of the 20th century pushed back against a broader set of white nationalist arguments that Black and Native people are not truly American.
- Kerri Greenidge, Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora at Tufts University. Greenidge is the author of the award-winning Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter, explores racial thought and African American political radicalism in New England at the turn of the 20th century.
- Kiara Vigil, Associate Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. Vigil is the author of Indigenous Intellectuals: Sovereignty, Citizenship, and the American Imagination, 1880-1930, which examines how leading Indigenous thinkers shaped debates about citizenship and race within American society during the early 20th century.
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.
In this exhibit, we 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 Recent Reflecting Attucks Events
- 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 →