I saved the best for last! This last day of February and last day of Black History Month 2013, let's travel to Boston where one of the most significant events in American history and in Black American history took place. Let's close the month out with the 'bang!' from British guns that started the American Revolutionary War, felling Crispus Attucks and four others where they stood. Attucks was not only the first man to die in the Revolutionary War, but as a black man with Native American roots, his martyrdom is a symbol to Americans of color confirming that we have always been here, integrally involved in the development and defense of our country.
Crispus Attucks, Patriot, first man to die in the American Revolutionary War. Gov Photo.
Who knew that the place where Crispus Attucks was shot down and the place where he is buried are part of the National Park System?! I only learned this fact recently, so recent that I have not yet had the chance to visit the Granary Burial Ground, where Crispus Attucks' remains lie with those of the four other men shot down alongside him, in the cemetery where other Revolutionary-era Patriots, including three signers of the Declaration of Independence and Paul Revere are buried. One headstone marks the resting place of the five men, and that of a young man who died earlier.
This headstone marks the resting place of Crispus Attucks and four other Americans who died in the Boston Massacre, as well as a young boy who died earlier.
When I wrote about the Boston National Historic Site which includes the Boston Massacre Site and the Granary Burial Ground ( (Day 24)) I was on my way to Boston and hoped to visit the burial ground so I could give you a firsthand report. It was too cold for me to be outside that weekend, but Crispus Attucks's story is so luminous that it seems the only fitting way to end Black History Month. I hope that all the students and all the teachers in hundreds of schools across the country named for Crispus Attucks will come to realize that they can visit the places where he walked, where he fell and where he rests, and literally touch the past.
Here's a description (Boston Massacre)
"Crispus Attucks, one of the first men to die for American freedom, was a fugitive slave who had escaped from his master and had worked for twenty years as a merchant seaman. When Samuel Adams, prominent leader of the struggle against British domination of the American colonies, called upon the dock workers and seamen in the port of Boston to demonstrate against the British troops guarding the customs commissioners, Crispus Attucks responded to the plea. Aroused by Adams' exhortations, a group of 40 to 50 patriots, armed with clubs, sticks and snowballs, approached the British soldiers. Attucks was apparently in the front of the line of the aroused citizens, urging them on. Suddenly there was a terse order--"Fire!" The British troops responded with a barrage of rifle fire.
"Crispus Attucks was the first to fall in the celebrated 'Boston Massacre' of 1770. Four other Americans died that night from the action. Samuel Adams used the incident to incite the colonists to further rebellion. Although only five people were killed, Adams termed it a "massacre" of innocent citizens by the tyrannical mother country. Paul Revere published a poem and a drawing of this famous incident in the Boston Gazette on March 12, 1770. Writers who omit Crispus Attucks' name from the accounts of the American Revolution might as well dismiss the 'Boston Massacre' as an irrelevant incident in the struggle for American independence."
Transcript of the trial of the accused in Crispus Attucks' murder. Who knew there'd been a trial? Amercan Treasures, Library of Congress Photo.
I hope you appreciated that little detour from our featured Boston African American National Historic Site on Day # 56 of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" adventure. Here's how I describe this unit in Our True Nature:
"The Boston African American National Historic Site includes the Black History Trail, a 1.6 mile walk along which you can experience the largest collection of historic sites in the country reflecting the lives of free African Americans before the Civil War. The 14 sites on Beacon Hill, one of Boston's most prestigious neighborhoods, include the African Meeting House built in 1806, the oldest black church still standing in the US. Both times I visited this church I was overcome with awe and respect to be standing in the place that was the center of the liberation movement. Here William Lloyd Garrison founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832 and the fiery Frederick Douglass delivered his impassioned protests against the inhuman institution of slavery.
"The Trail also includes the Abiel Smith School, the first publicly-funded school for African American children in the US, founded in 1835; the Lewis and Harriet Hayden House, which was a refuge on the Underground Railroad, and the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial across from the Capitol, which commemorates the heroism of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The 54th Massachusetts was the first unit of free Black soldiers in the Union Army, with Colonel Robert Gould Shaw at the head. (Their story is told in the movie, 'Glory.')
"Boston is also home to 34 small islands in the Boston Harbor Islands chain, many of them operated by the National Park Service and other federal agencies. They include Gallops Island, which used to house the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and Little Brewster Island, home of Boston Light, the oldest light station in the country."
Note: Please buy a copy of Our True Nature from my website today (www.legacyontheland.com) Your purchase will help me buy more copies to use in schools this Black History Month. Your books will be autographed with a personal message of appreciation and mailed to you within a week.)
Publication of "Our True Nature" is supported by Delaware North Parks & Resorts, Forever Resorts and Guest Services.
If you've missed any of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" adventure, find them here Archive