What does Crispus Attucks represent when we talk of African American history?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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What Crispus Attucks represents in African American history is the idea that African Americans have been involved in an active and valuable way in American history since the earliest days of our nation’s founding.

In many ways, we tend to think of African Americans as having been passive pawns in our history.  They have been enslaved and treated badly.  They have been segregated and discriminated against.  We do not tend to depict them as real actors in our history.  Instead, they are people who have things done to them.

Crispus Attucks represents a blow to that idea.  He represents the idea that African Americans have always been an active part of our history.  He was a man who had been a slave and had escaped.  He then became a very active and aggressive member of the Sons of Liberty, pushing for American liberty and independence.  He was, of course, killed in the Boston Massacre, becoming a patriotic martyr.  What this means is that African Americans have been important since the beginning of the push for independence.

Crispus Attucks, then, is a symbol of how African Americans have been actors, not just bystanders, from the very beginning of our nation’s history.