WSW: Crispus Attucks And A “Blank Slate” In History

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-29 01:56Z by Steven

WSW: Crispus Attucks And A “Blank Slate” In History

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First Marty of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory
Credit Oxford University Press

Western Michigan University History Professor Mitch Kachun says his book is about Crispus Attucks, one of the men, killed at the Boston Massacre in 1770. But he says First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory also raises questions about who’s included in history, and who is ignored.

Attucks himself was ignored for long periods of American history. Kachun says while the Boston Massacre was remembered in the 1770’s into the 1780’s, those killed were rarely mentioned by name. But Kachun says around the time of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, more attention was paid to the role of the working class in the American Revolution. Then as the anti-slavery movement became more active, the story of the mixed-race man killed in 1770 was told more often. By the end of the 1840’s and in the 1850’s, Kachun says Attucks was often referred to as a figure in the Revolution.

If Attucks had not been mixed race, Kachun says his name may not have come so much over time. He says that very few people can name any of the others killed at the Boston Massacre. Kachun says Attucks was identified as mixed-race or “mulatto,” but the initial newspaper accounts and the coroner’s report identified him as “Michael Johnson.” Kachun says that had led to theories that Crispus Attucks was hiding his identity because he had escaped slavery in 1750. But Kachun says there is no evidence to support that claim…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview (00:29:27) here.

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First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2017-11-28 23:23Z by Steven

First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory

Oxford University Press
328 pages
22 hts
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 9780199731619

Mitch Kachun, Professor of History
Western Michigan University

  • Most thorough study of what is known about the life of Crispus Attucks.
  • First extended analysis of the role of Attucks in American history and memory.
  • Figure has been referenced constantly in popular culture throughout the centuries, inc. current series “Luke Cage.”

First Martyr of Liberty explores how Crispus Attucks’s death in the 1770 Boston Massacre led to his achieving mythic significance in African Americans’ struggle to incorporate their experiences and heroes into the mainstream of the American historical narrative. While the other victims of the Massacre have been largely ignored, Attucks is widely celebrated as the first to die in the cause of freedom during the era of the American Revolution. He became a symbolic embodiment of black patriotism and citizenship.

This book traces Attucks’s career through both history and myth to understand how his public memory has been constructed through commemorations and monuments; institutions and organizations bearing his name; juvenile biographies; works of poetry, drama, and visual arts; popular and academic histories; and school textbooks. There will likely never be a definitive biography of Crispus Attucks since so little evidence exists about the man’s actual life. While what can and cannot be known about Attucks is addressed here, the focus is on how he has been remembered–variously as either a hero or a villain–and why at times he has been forgotten by different groups and individuals from the eighteenth century to the present day.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Who Was This Man?
  • Chapter 2: The Dustbin of History: Crispus Attucks and American Amnesia, 1770s-1840s
  • Chapter 3: First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks and the Struggle for Citizenship in the Civil War Era
  • Chapter 4: Crispus Attucks Meets Jim Crow: The Segregation of American Memory, 1870s-1910s
  • Chapter 5: Crispus Attucks Meets the New Negro: Black History and Black Heroes between the World Wars
  • Chapter 6: Crispus Attucks Meets Dorie Miller: Black Patriotism and Activism in the World War II Era
  • Chapter 7: Crispus Attucks and the Black Freedom Struggle, 1950s-1970s
  • Chapter 8: Crispus Attucks from the Bicentennial to the Culture Wars, 1970s-1990s
  • Chapter 9: Crispus Attucks in Twenty-First Century America
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • Index
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Remembering Crispus Attucks and the forgotten black soldiers of the American Revolution

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2013-05-29 15:15Z by Steven

Remembering Crispus Attucks and the forgotten black soldiers of the American Revolution

The Grio

Ronda Racha Penrice

Crispus Attucks. (Library of Congress)

Memorial Day may be more about barbecues and blowout sales than honoring our deceased veterans these days, but there are many reasons for African-Americans in particular to take pause.

Starting with the Civil War, on through World Wars I and II, moving into the Vietnam War, the Korean War and, most recently, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, African-Americans have had a strong and active military presence dating back to this country’s founding.

In fact, many credit the onset of the American Revolutionary War to the Boston Massacre that occurred on March 5, 1770 when Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave of African and Native American heritage, fell to his death while standing up to the British. Some may even consider him to be the first American, of any color, to fall in defense of what would come to be seen as our American ideals.

Centuries later, much is still unknown about Crispus Attucks, who has widely been credited as the first to die that fateful day in March. Born in either Framingham or Natick in Massachusetts, Attucks worked on a whaling crew that sailed out of Boston Harbor. Thanks to what the Massachusetts colonists believed were unfair taxation policies from the British Parliament, starting with the Stamp Act of 1765 and continuing with the passage of the Townshend Acts in 1767 (which mainly placed import taxes on goods from England), tensions were high in the colony; so much so that the British began to increase their military presence in 1768…

Read the entire article here.

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