Attucks and the Birth of a Nation
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.
Our virtual panel discussion, Attucks and 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.
This event is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute.
About the Panelists
Kerri Greenidge is the 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 is 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.
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.