A Potent Force

The Liberty Tree Flag & The Spirit of American Protest

A Potent Force: The Liberty Tree Flag & The Spirit of American Protest

Join Revolutionary Spaces, Ford Hall Forum, and GBH Forum Network on March 14 as we unearth a treasure from our expansive collection, the iconic Liberty Tree Flag, and explore the great American tradition of protest. Commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, which ignited from the Meeting of the Body of the People at Old South Meeting House, we will examine how this artifact relates to protest and the fight for freedom in its time, connecting it to our broader understanding of American history.

Revolutionary Spaces Associate Director of Collections Lori Erickson will showcase the Liberty Tree Flag and discuss the artifact, which was used to mark the Liberty Tree as a site of memory that symbolized the power of protest. Almost every subsequent protest in Revolutionary Boston genuflected in some way to the Liberty Tree. Later, the flag was brought out at anti-slavery meetings and feminist meetings as a reminder of the power of protest to make change.

We’ll then be joined by esteemed professor and award-winning author Robert David “KC” Johnson to explore the history of American protest movements, from colonial to present day. The program will conclude with an audience Q&A.

This essential virtual program will provide context for future programs at Revolutionary Spaces and other institutions throughout the anniversary year of the Boston Tea Party, as we grapple with the notion of protest in our midst.

This program is made possible through the generous support of the Lowell Institute.


Tuesday, March 14, 2023 at 6:30 PM

Admission is free.


About the Participants

Robert David "KC" Johnson is an award-winning Professor of History at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center. In 2007-2008, he taught at Tel Aviv University as Fulbright Distinguished Chair in the Humanities. Professor Johnson received a Bachelor of Arts and Ph.D. from Harvard and a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago. His books include Congress and the Cold War, which was published by Cambridge University Press and won the D.B. Hardeman Prize. He has written widely on 20th and 21st century United States political, diplomatic, and legal affairs.

Dr. Nathaniel Sheidley is the President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces. He was formerly Executive Director of the Bostonian Society and Assistant Professor of American and Native American History at Wellesley College. He is a graduate of Stanford University and holds a Ph.D. in American History from Princeton University. Sheidley is a programmatically daring historian whose leadership has reimagined public history at the center of Boston’s cultural landscape. His work is guided by a deeply held belief that public history at its best can do more than tell us about the past; it can also deepen our understanding of the present and equip us to build a more just and equitable future. Sheidley curated and provided creative direction for numerous exhibitions and programs, including Blood on the Snow, an immersive, site-specific work of theater written by playwright Patrick Gabridge that dramatizes the pivotal aftermath of the Boston Massacre in the very room where the events took place.