Reflecting Attucks is a new temporary exhibit exploring the life and legacy of Crispus Attucks, a man of African and Native descent who was the first to fall in the Boston Massacre, an act of protest widely viewed as a turning point on the road to American Revolution.
Americans have turned the memory of Attucks into a powerful symbol of the courage and sacrifice needed to achieve change over the course of the 250 years since his murder on March 5, 1770. Reflecting Attucks illuminates how generations of Americans saw their own reflection in the image of a man of mixed race standing in the face of fierce opposition.
Reflecting Attucks provides a ground-breaking look at Attucks in a moment at which the nation recognizes the vital role that protest and resistance play in American democracy, particularly for communities that have yet to realize the founding ideals of freedom and equality.
The exhibit illuminates Attucks’s life as a member of the 18th-century Afro-Indian community, which had a deep understanding of many forms of colonial oppression. From there, Reflecting Attucks explores how Revolutionary-era Bostonians perceived him alternately as both a martyr for the cause and a leader of the mob, and how 19th and 20th century activists invoked the memory of Attucks in pursuit of freedom and equality for African Americans. Throughout, examples of art, poetry and monuments show how changing social conditions influence our memory of Attucks and his place in the pantheon of American heroes.
We invite audiences to reflect together about this generation might call on the memory of Attucks to build a more just and equitable future tomorrow.
Due to the pandemic, Reflecting Attucks will be released online in monthly installments starting in late summer 2020. The physical exhibit will remain on display in Representatives Hall at the Old State House through Summer 2021 and is included in museum admission.
Dig Deeper: Recommended Reading
- Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter by Kerri Greenidge
- The First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory by Mitch Kachun
- This Land is Their Land by David Silverman
- The Boston Massacre: A Family History by Serena Zabin
- Black Lives, Native Lands, White Worlds: A History of Slavery in New England by Jared Ross Hardesty