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
- An American HeroAttucks takes his place in the pantheon of national heroes in the popular consciousness.Read more →
- Imagining the MassacreArtists draw on the memory of Attucks’s role in the Massacre to help navigate moments of national crisis.Read more →
- Facing AttucksWith no confirmed portrait of Attucks, artists draw on their imaginations to bring him to life.Read more →
- Attucks in ArtArtists portrayed Attucks to remind the nation that people of African and Native descent are central to the American story.Read more →
- Fighting for EquityIn Boston, Attucks’s legacy became a powerful tool for Black leaders facing white backlash against desegregation.Read more →
- Fighting for EqualityA new generation of activists invokes Attucks’s story to challenge white supremacists at the turn of the 20th century.Read more →
- Fighting for A Place in the CityAs Black communities faced new threats and challenges following the Civil War, Black Bostonians took up the cause of creating a monument to secure Attucks’s legacy.Read more →
- Fighting for FreedomPresented as the first martyr of the Revolution, Attucks’s legacy is revived to serve the cause of abolition.Read more →
- Fighting for IndependenceAttucks’s death at the Boston Massacre became a rallying point on the road to Revolution.Read more →