Remembering Crispus Attucks and the forgotten black soldiers of the American Revolution

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery, United States on 2013-05-29 15:15Z by Steven

Remembering Crispus Attucks and the forgotten black soldiers of the American Revolution

The Grio

Ronda Racha Penrice

Crispus Attucks. (Library of Congress)

Memorial Day may be more about barbecues and blowout sales than honoring our deceased veterans these days, but there are many reasons for African-Americans in particular to take pause.

Starting with the Civil War, on through World Wars I and II, moving into the Vietnam War, the Korean War and, most recently, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, African-Americans have had a strong and active military presence dating back to this country’s founding.

In fact, many credit the onset of the American Revolutionary War to the Boston Massacre that occurred on March 5, 1770 when Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave of African and Native American heritage, fell to his death while standing up to the British. Some may even consider him to be the first American, of any color, to fall in defense of what would come to be seen as our American ideals.

Centuries later, much is still unknown about Crispus Attucks, who has widely been credited as the first to die that fateful day in March. Born in either Framingham or Natick in Massachusetts, Attucks worked on a whaling crew that sailed out of Boston Harbor. Thanks to what the Massachusetts colonists believed were unfair taxation policies from the British Parliament, starting with the Stamp Act of 1765 and continuing with the passage of the Townshend Acts in 1767 (which mainly placed import taxes on goods from England), tensions were high in the colony; so much so that the British began to increase their military presence in 1768…

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