Public Program - Mitch Kachun

Lectures and performances
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 7:00pm

“First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory”
by Mitch Kachun
In collaboration with the exhibition Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere

How do stories about the past get constructed? How and why do certain historical narratives gain widespread credibility and familiarity while others are forgotten or marginalized? Why are certain historical figures honored as heroes while others are portrayed as villains or ignored completely? In this talk based on his book First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory (2017), Mitch Kachun explores the different ways, over the past 250 years, that Crispus Attucks—a mixed-race man who was killed in the 1770 Boston Massacre—has been either made a part of or excluded from Americans’ understandings of the story of the American Revolution and the story of the nation.

Mitch Kachun is professor emeritus of history at Western Michigan University, specializing in African American history, collective memory, and historical writing. Kachun is a Fulbright Specialist roster member in American studies and has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Gilder Lehman Institute for the Study of United States History, and the United States Department of Education, among others. His publications include First Martyr of Liberty: Crispus Attucks in American Memory (2017); Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808–1915 (2003); and (as coeditor) The Curse of Caste; or the Slave Bride: A Rediscovered African American Novel by Julia C. Collins (2006), which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2007.

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